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Eugenia Choe: Magic Light

James Nadal By

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One of the most interesting aspects of jazz immersion studies is how it influences and affects players from diverse backgrounds. Korean born and classically trained pianist Eugenia Choe was drawn to jazz by its opportunities for compositional development and improvisational challenges, bringing to Magic Light a lyrical understanding of technical structure, and an intellectual ability to swing.

This being her recording debut, Choe came to the sessions with an abundance of original material, revealing her pianistic virtuosity and versatility. Her accompanists, bassist Danny Weller and drummer Alex Wyatt, have been with her for several years, and the cohesive element is evident. Beginning with "Shades Of Light," there is a sense of spaciousness that permeates the entire production, and the bowing bass adds a flair of mysterious baroque on this track. "Koquirri," an ode to the elephant, is a euphonious interaction with the rhythm, propelled by a steady bass attack.

The mood softens with the graceful "Petals," a piano/bass interval which glides into Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing." A song where Choe and Weller show their accumulated jazz understanding with a straight ahead trio number. "Magic Light," exhibits Choe's aptitude for flotation in her writing, as sections appear to have a buoyant nature. The harmonious "Scattered Chant," has aggressive passages leading to the piano and bass solos, and a hymnological ending.

"Maison de Crescent," is a dreamy waltz with a traditional Korean jung jung mori rhythm, which is reminiscent of ancient blues patterns. They go fluently into the easy swing of "When Lights Are Low," penned by Benny Carter, the band slipping into the corner pocket with ease. Love is represented in the ballad "Where Are Hearts Stay," that is both joyous and contemplative, performed with the proper attitude for romance. They wrap it up with "Astor Botanic," an organic tribute to gardening, and the natural world, completed in a smooth and flowing matter.

Jazz continues to regenerate as more players come into the fold, honoring the timeless process of searching for their inner voice. The piano trio format is an intensive and laborious undertaking, requiring much practice and dedication, coupled with abundant talent, to achieve attainable goals. Eugenia Choe rode her personally distinctive currents into this amalgamated music, and made a magnificent record.

Track Listing: Shades Of Light; Koquirri; Petals; A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing; Magic Light; Scattered Chant; Maison De Cresent; When Lights Are Low; Where Our Hearts Stay; Astor Botanic.

Personnel: Eugenia Choe: piano; Danny Weller: bass; Alex Wyatt: drums.

Title: Magic Light | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Steeplechase Productions


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