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The Hyungjin Choi Quartet: Brooklyn, December 7, 2010

Patrick Hanna By

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Hyungjin Choi Quartet
Puppets Jazz Bar
Brooklyn, NY
December 7, 2010

When the Hyungjin Choi Quartet played at Puppets Jazz Bar in Brooklyn recently, it was worth battling the brutal weather for an opportunity to see them perform.

The band consisted of young musicians with a very unique sound. Drummer Takehiro Shimizu and bassist Elad Muskatel created a solid but free energy, bringing pure love to each sound they made while tenor saxophonist Yacine Boulares projected clear color, flattering the already beautiful melodies. Choi, who has a brilliant touch on the piano and full awareness of the group dynamics, led the band beautifully through a set that consisted mostly of her original compositions alongside some arrangements of well-known jazz standards.

They started with Choi's "Jordan River," a ballad, presenting an incredible piano intro leading into a longing melody played by the tenor sax. From there they continued with a bass and piano ostinato, setting up the groove for the pianist's special arrangement of the celebrated jazz standard "You Don't Know What Love Is." The next song, "Leaving Home," was another original, this time featuring her mastery in a trio setting, then Yacine was back on stage for a straight-ahead "Monk's Dream." The flexibility of these fine musicians allowed them to shift between highly complicated compositions and relatively simple jazz standards while maintaining the same environment of freedom and creativity.

The last composition was Choi's "Toy Soldier," a highly energetic gospel song with a great and positive melody that featured trading between the tenor sax and the piano, as well as being a wonderful showcase for the great talents of the rhythm section.

This performance bodes well for a debut recording of this gifted young composer and her group.

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