Brooklyn-based jazz vocalist Seung-Hee possesses the composure of a seasoned chanteuse while demonstrating broader qualities that contain refined arranging skills, classical training, and multilingual singing. The South Korean native represents a soulfully empathetic performer and a composer who's not afraid to take chances as witnessed in Sketches on the Sky, the follow up to 2009's memorable self-produced debut, Waiting.
With a top-notch band that includes the brown-toned reeds of Adam Kolker and rising pianist Frank LoCrasto, Seung-Hee offers an eclectic mix with new material and unique covers such as Charlie Haden's "Bohm So Ri" now colored with Korean lyrics. "Sketch Part I" begins the set with a chamber-esque theme that switches tempos and lifts to the skies with unison voice/instrumental acrobatics, and jubilant swinging solos held in check by bassist Ike Sturm and drummer George Schuller. It's followed by "I'll Be Here" where Seung-Hee's lyrics exude bittersweet longing and graceful symmetry with Sturm's affecting arco.
Seung-Hee's fearlessness is displayed in the unique versioning of Stevie Wonder's "Vision" or when tackling the Edu Lobo Brazilian classic "Pra Dizer Adeus." She not only balances different languages but also the ability to use her voice as an expressive instrument that rivals Kolker's tenor flights in Bill Evans's "An Elliptical Note." Her artistry and passion for music is infectious throughout the set, culminating with the charming children's song "By the Sea."
Track Listing: Sketch Part I; I'll Be Here; Winter and Then; Bohm So Ri; Sketch Part II; Pra Dizer Adeus;Visions; An elliptical note; Valparaiso; By the Sea.
Personnel: Seung-Hee: voice, compositions and arrangements; Adam Kolker: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Frank LoCrasto: piano; Ike Sturm: bass; George Schuller: drums.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.