Yoosun Nam: Light Of the City

Edward Blanco By

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Yoosun Nam: Light Of the City
Based in New York City, South Korean saxophonist Yoosun Nam leads a very able quintet in recording her very first album as leader on the modern and contemporary-styled Light of the City. A classically-trained musician who began studying music at a young age, Nam played the piano at first and while she enjoyed many styles of music, she was drawn to jazz and picked up the saxophone at the tender age of nineteen. After making a successful transformation to the sax, she has been a jazz musician ever since and this impressive outing is her coming out party of sorts and quite a bash it truly is.

The new album offers a selection of fresh new and original material in which Nam takes to both the alto and soprano saxophones on this session leaving the tenor work to journeyman Chris Cheek. The music is indeed modern jazz with a sprinkling of contemporary elements making for an engaging musical experience. The music kicks off with the sprite mid tempo "Up And Down" featuring the leader on the soprano saxophone with drummer Jesse Simpson and pianist Kyumin Shim the strong rhythm lines. The lights of New York City at night served as the inspiration for the title of this debut and the title tune serves to illuminate the saxophonist's appreciable chops on the instrument. Guitarist Keisuke Matsuno plays a prominent role on the track, one of the stand out pieces of the set.

The band moves into that contemporary landscape on the very accessible "Alice" boasting a terrific melody, featured solos from the leader and the pianist while tenorist Cheek helps augment the reed sound. Nam delivers a warm and somewhat somber performance on the down tempo ballad-styled "Deeply Sad," accompanied well by a delicious finger dance on the keys by Shim rounding out the short but beautiful soft spot of the disc. The saxophonist and band turn to the bluesy side on the fast-paced blues burner "Myron's Blues" revealing another side of Nam's talents as she belts out some exciting alto solo phrases.

There's nothing really bitter about Nam's "Bitter" piece, it's actually quite musically tasteful highlighting bassist Carlos De Rosa as well as other members of the band, this piece enjoys the flavor of the modern style. Closing the session on "These Are Hard Times for Dreamers," Nam—on the soprano—and her quintet light up the music on an upbeat perky burner to end the album on the bright side. As debut albums go, Light of the City is an engaging start and solid foundation for saxophonist Yoosun Nam. While not widely recognized at the moment, gifted musician, composer and band leader Nam, makes her presence known with a sparkling all around performance on this audacious outing.

Track Listing

Up And Down; Light Of The City; Alice; Bohemian Dance With Chagall; Deeply Sad; Myron's Blues; Bitter; These Are Hard Times For Dreamers.


Yoosun Nam: alto saxophone and soprano saxophone; Chris Cheek: tenor saxophone (2,3,6); Keisuke Matsuno: guitar; Kyumin Shim: piano; Carlos De Rosa: bass; Jesse Simpson: drums.

Album information

Title: Light Of the City | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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