All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

8

KyungGu Lee: New Song

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz is all about artistic growth and an individual's willingness to move outside of his/her comfort zone to make it happen. Tenor saxophonist KyungGu Lee has firsthand knowledge of this fact; the Korean-born Lee had settled into a comfortable musical life in his native land, playing the clubs, teaching, and working the theater and television sides of the music business, but realized that he needed to push beyond what he already knew in order grow. So, he packed up his things and moved to New York in 2006. Studies at the New School For Jazz And Contemporary Music and SUNY Purchase put him in contact with saxophonists Donny McCaslin, Rich Perry, Mark Turner and Steve Wilson, as well as other renowned jazz performer-educators like trumpeter Jon Faddis and bassist Todd Coolman, who opened him up to the possibilities inherent within himself. Now, with the release of his debut album, his well-rounded viewpoint is on record for all to hear.

Lee is a modernist who doesn't go too far afoot from latter-day conventions; he makes music for himself and his musicians, but understands that an audience is needed in order to complete the cycle of creation and dissemination. His band mates are all higher profile players who happen to fall in line with this line of thinking. Johannes Weidenmuller's round bass sound fills in the bottom end of spectrum, and drummer Adam Cruz provides crisp direction, whether laying down a steady groove, nailing the hits or simply sprinkling cymbals over the band. Pianist Kevin Hays proves to be the most valuable player here, creating flowing undercurrents, conversational lines, and authoritative and compelling solos.

Lee proves himself a lyrical player, but doesn't fall into the sentimentality trap that snares so many players, as "The Princess" and "New Song" make clear. As a composer, he proves to be a fan of the middle ground, without resorting to extremes in any direction. One minute he might be taking liberties with his own rewrite of an oft-covered standard ("All The Things") and the next minute moving between an odd-metered groove and some straight- four backing ("The Rose"), but he's always in control.

Lulled into a comfort zone with the first four songs, the clear direction that Lee establishes is abandoned with the wonderfully sensuous, tango-influenced "Intuition," the album's standout track. While swing feels aren't a big part of Lee's vision here, he ends the album with a mid-tempo swinger that also proves to be one of its strongest entries ("Mr. W"). Both Lee and guest saxophonist Steve Wilson, who appears on three of the album's seven tracks, shine—both as individuals and in back-and-forth trade-offs.

KyungGu Lee has found his voice on New Song; now he just needs to keep on growing. This is an excellent debut record from an up-and-comer willing to push beyond his comfort limits.

Track Listing: All The Things; The Rose; The Princess; New Song; Intuition; Visitors; Mr. W.

Personnel: KyungGu Lee: tenor saxophone; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone (1, 2, 7); Kevin Hays: piano; Johannes Weidenmuller: bass; Adam Cruz: drums.

Title: New Song | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller CD/LP/Track Review
Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Vera CD/LP/Track Review
Vera
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 18, 2018
Read In Motion CD/LP/Track Review
In Motion
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Marshian Time Slip CD/LP/Track Review
Marshian Time Slip
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Four On The Road CD/LP/Track Review
Four On The Road
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 17, 2018
Read "End Game of the Anthropocene" CD/LP/Track Review End Game of the Anthropocene
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 8, 2018
Read "Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics" CD/LP/Track Review Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 5, 2018
Read "Tenderness is Silent" CD/LP/Track Review Tenderness is Silent
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 29, 2018
Read "20" CD/LP/Track Review 20
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Vision Songs Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Vision Songs Vol. 1
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 8, 2018
Read "Automatic For The People - 25th Anniversary Edition" CD/LP/Track Review Automatic For The People - 25th Anniversary Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: November 12, 2017