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Dear All About Jazz Readers,

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Rising Stars: The Beginning of the Han Dynasty

Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius By

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"Jazz can't be Jazz unless it has rich roots but is also pushing boundaries." Inspired by the 'young lions' of the 1990s (Kenny Kirkland, Wynton Marsalis, et al. Not actual lions), she's bringing a new voice to the conventional language of Our Music. This reflects my own philosophy regarding my place as Your Own Personal Genius. Like Connie, I wish to remain steeped in the tradition of those who came before me while forging a new path all my own. Unlike Connie, I'm not a 21-year-old Jazz wunderkind from Los Angeles.

It should be mentioned, at this point, that my admiration for Connie's work does not stem from her obvious loveliness. While one would have to be blind not to notice her beauty, it is her talent alone that brought her here. I do not consider the appearance of my subjects when I choose to profile them. And, as a heterosexual male, I am unable to gauge the physical appearance of my male subjects. But then, Our Music is not known as a haven for pretty people with minimal talent, like pop music. Connie is an intelligent, articulate, gifted artist who just happens to be very attractive (in my opinion. And I'll fight the man who says different).

Back to the point.

With an appearance at the Arturo Sandoval Jazz Festival completed, Connie has a lineup of gigs in her future. It goes without saying that I recommend you get out and see her perform if you can. And if you are in Los Angeles and do get out, do me a favor and enjoy a French dip sandwich at Phillipe's for me. I'm stuck in a place where the only French dip available is at Arby's, and the local Jazz scene consists mostly of a guy who claims to have once given Maria Schneider a hickey.

Connie Han represents a new force in Our Music that will safely carry it into the next generation alive and well. She is a living certainty that we will not go the way of skiffle or klezmer. As long as there are young people out there taking up the banner of Our Music, Jazz will continue to be the voice of an America that still exists beyond the current socio-political hysteria that separates us.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

We're pleased to announce that Connie just signed a recording deal with Mack Avenue Records, and should be releasing an album soon which we here at AAJ will diligently review for your edification. I, for one, am greatly looking forward to its release and adding the CD to the 'Dome's permanent collection, both because I enjoy her music and because I want to be able to say I was into her on the ground floor before her inevitable rise to the stratosphere of today's Jazz world. As hipster-ish as it may sound, I want to be able to say that I was into her before almost anyone. Certainly, before those slackers over at those other Jazz websites. That's why they call us All About Jazz, we don't do anything half-assed.

We here at AAJ wish nothing but the best for Ms. Han. It is artists like her that will carry Our Music into whatever comes next, be it a new golden age or simply a continuance of Jazz's place in the beating heart of American culture. For those of us who have spent decades in and around Jazz, it is good to know that we are in excellent hands. Our future assured, we can go back to arguing over such minutiae as whether Paul Desmond could have taken Jackie McLean in a fair fight (I've got Desmond by TKO in 4).

Till next time, kids, exit to your right and enjoy the rest of AAJ.

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