DR. JORDAN VANHEMERT is a Korean American saxophonist and composer lauded for his skill as a modern jazz improviser. VanHemert’s music—including his new album I AM NOT A VIRUS—is deeply informed by his political consciousness, employing his distinctive compositional voice to address issues of race and social justice. Critics recognize VanHemert’s music as being profoundly relevant; noted jazz journalist and historian Scott Yanow recently praised VanHemert’s debut release as “quite impressive,” stating that his piece “Autumn Song” “could eventually become a standard.” VanHemert serves on the faculty at Hope College as Assistant Professor of Music Instruction in saxophone and jazz studies. He is also the Music Director of the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to jazz advocacy, education, and performance. VanHemert is a Vandoren Artist-Clinician and Selmer Paris Saxophones Performing Artist. He performs exclusively on Vandoren reeds and mouthpieces and Selmer Paris saxophones.
I Am Not a Virus is filled with VanHemert pushing himself as a writer, performer, and leader. The
inspiration behind each song is a bit of a story of VanHemert’s musical retort to racism and the unjust
hostility toward Asian-Americans amid a global pandemic. The music flows like a healthy cathartic
act from VanHemert and comes across as creative, grounded, and strikingly passionate.
-Stamish Malcuss, Jazz Sensibilities
The craft is tight, the feeling is refreshing, the sound is quick and precise, and the gestalt brings the
individual voices of the musicians into group form, taking turns soloing and working together,
interpreting the now into the fabric of the groove. The album covers a full range of expressive energy.
-Robin James, All About Jazz
Although the album's title is a heady condemnation of the xenophobic violence all too prevalent at
the moment, VanHemert's music is far from preachy or even angry. Instead, its reflective nature
seams to speak in healing and optimistic terms.
VanHemert offers a guiding light in "The Path Ahead," a floating structure that settles in with a
commanding piano statement from Lisa Sung. It's open and hypnotic format recalls similar forays by
the late Kenny Wheeler. As a coy finish, a bass vamp allows drummer Andy Wheelock to spin his
own tale before the reprise of the opening melody. Equally beguiling is the waltz tempo of "Autumn
Song," which finds VanHemert's tenor at the forefront. Refreshingly free of clichés, Jordan's tone is
firm and flexible and his lines resolve in creative, yet logical ways.
- C. Andrew Hovan, All About Jazz