5

Jihye Lee: Daring Mind

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Jihye Lee: Daring Mind
Korean-born composer Jihye Lee is a musician who knows her own mind, whether it be relentless, unshakable, revived, dissatisfied or Daring, as on her second recording for Motema Records. In 2018, Lee earned the prestigious BMI Charlie Parker Composition Prize for "Unshakable Mind," one of nine diverse themes presented here. Another, "I Dare You," is loosely based on Wayne Shorter's response when asked, "What is jazz?" It is a question Lee must also address, as her music is not only thematic but, in many ways, more closely allied to chamber music than to more traditional big-band jazz. As Lee points out in the liner notes, she is not "a traditional swing band style composer." She comes closest perhaps on "Why Is That," a shuffling blues whose groovy rhythmic patterns flow directly from the jazz playbook.

It is interesting to note that Lee says she was "dissatisfied" while writing that piece, as though she should have been writing something deeper and more consequential—whereas fans of big-band jazz may well see it as the most satisfying work on the album. It does swing, a pleasant counterpoint to what comes before and after. That is not to imply that anything Lee writes is less than proficient. Her compositions are neatly drawn, with melodies, harmonies, rhythms and counterpoint well within the boundaries of accepted custom, and dissonance kept for the most part at arm's length. And there must be a reason why Lee is winning awards. Even so, it is up to the listener to decide whether her intricate and essentially exploratory themes can elicit repeated approval.

As any scrupulous big-band composer must, Lee sets aside blowing space on every number, even though most of the soloists are unnamed. Guest trumpeter Sean Jones is an exception, showcased on the gospel-inspired anthem "Struggle Gives You Strength" and (with trombonist Alan Ferber) on the sunny opener, "Relentless Mind." The brisk alto sax solo on "Why Is That" is by Ben Kono or Rob Wilkerson (take your pick). Some listeners may take to Lee's music like ducks to water; others may find that water too cool and choppy to suit their taste. Either way, Lee is securely at the helm, inflexibly steering the ship toward her chosen destination. Those who choose to board may find the voyage predictably turbulent yet unexpectedly rewarding.

Track Listing

Relentless Mind; Unshakeable Mind; Suji; I Dare You; Revived Mind; Struggle Gives You Strength; Why Is That; Dissatisfied Mind; GB.

Personnel

Jihye Lee: composer/conductor; Sean Jones: trumpet; Alan Ferber: trombone; Ben Kono: woodwinds; Adam Birnbaum: piano; Quensin Nachoff: saxophone, tenor; Mike Fahie: trombone; Rob Wilkerson: saxophone, alto; Brian Pareschi: trumpet; John Lake: trumpet; Alex Norris: trumpet; Nick Grinder: trombone; Jennifer Wharton: trombone; Sebastian Noelle: guitar; Evan Gregor: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Jeremy Powell: reeds; Carl Maraghi: reeds; Mark Patterson: trombone # 2,5; Haeun Joo: piano (2, 5, 8).

Album information

Title: Daring Mind | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Motéma Music

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Waterwheel
Daniel Thatcher
New Leaves
Dan Rose, Claudine Francois
Astonishments
Steve Swell
A Swingin' Sesame Street Celebration
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton...

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.