Seoul native and New York based saxophonist Yoosun Nam's debut Light Of the City, true to its name, is a luminous album that showcases Nam's strong sense of lyricism and her exquisite agility on the her instrument. An incandescent feel imbues all eight Nam penned originals and although none of the tunes are particularly memorable there is a thematic cohesiveness to the record and a warm, organic ambience.
On "Up and Down," Nam weaves a charming, spontaneous and very melodic tale that stems loosely from the main motif and meanders through the rhythm section's spirited, percolating rumble. Guitarist Keisuke Matsuno's thick, resonant strums echo Nam's ideas but embellish them further in a succinct yet eloquent solo.
The darkly hued and intensely poetic "Bitter" maintains the same ardent intimacy and adds a touch of mysticism. Pianist Kyumin Shim's chords cascade with a rich, mordant tone, like fine aged whisky, setting the stage for Nam's turn in the spotlight. Nam lets loose with reserved and wistful passion a flood of intriguing, interlinked ideas that although not particularly innovative are delightfully inventive.
Nam demonstrates her superb improvisational skills throughout but particularly as she shares the frontline with seasoned tenorist Chris Cheek. On the simmering, up-tempo "Myron's Blues" the dual saxophones state the head with fiery wit and fervent articulation. Nam matches Cheek's crisp soliloquy and clever phraseology with a cool sophistication and elegant expressiveness.
The disc closes with the funky and humorous "These Are Hard Times For Dreamers." The democratic piece is akin to a relaxed, ad lib conversation among friends over coffee. Nam's acerbic soprano exchanges fast paced lines with Shim's soulful keys and Matsuno's conversational quitar. Bassist Carlos De Rosa's strings reverberate with a graceful swagger while drummer Jesse Simpson contributes thunderous bursts to the dialogue.
Both as a composer and a performer Nam already has a unique style and a voice of her own. This captivating and enjoyable work already foretells of her brilliant future career
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.
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