The music of pianist Bongwool Lee
has a hopeful feeling. The Korean-born and now New York-based artist drew her first jazz inspirationafter classical studies in her homelandfrom the work of Oscar Peterson
, who sent much musical time walking on the sunny side of the street. But where Peterson rolled mostly in the jazz standards/Great American Songbook realm, Lee presents, on her debut recording, My Singing Fingers
, a set of compelling original compositions. With one exceptionthe Ray Henderson-penned classic "Bye Bye Blackbird."
The "optimism" observation is drawn from the disc's title tune/opener. Lee shows off a crisp delicacy of touch here, and an accessible complexity of harmony and melodya mixture of serenity and forward energy inside the deftly-applied and understated turbulence of her trio mates, drummer Kendrick Scott
and bassist Luques Curtis
. "Sungshin Piano" has a similar calm combined with a lilting brightness, whereas "How's Up There?" takes the sound into the shadows, into varying shades of grey on this (perhaps) mournful rumination.
"Bye Bye Blackbird," the standard, is ever-familiar. Verve Records released a 45 RPM single take on the tune in 1957, by Oscar Peterson. Lee's version sparkles, in a fluid and relaxed way, gathering into a harmonic lushness. "Recurring Nightmare" turns things up to a frenetic level, a dream of being chased by something dangerous maybe, and "After The Black Dog" struts along at a jaunty, rollicking romp.
An auspicious debut, pointing toward a bright future.
Track Listing: My Singing Fingers; Sungshin Piano; How's Up There?; Bye Bye Blackbird; Repeating Nightmare; After The Black Dog; Feminite Du Bois; Why Not; Burning Incense.
Personnel: Bongwool Lee: piano; Luques Curtis: bass; Kendrick Scott: drums; Taylor Eigsti: Fender Rhodes (3).
Title: My Singing Fingers
| Year Released: 2018
| Record Label: Origin Records