Kevin Sun: (Un)seaworthyBy
Sun is too ambitious to be a rote-following traditionalist, and the complexity of Sustain of Memory displayed a restless creativity, from spartan trio work with Stinson and Honor to trickier quartet pieces with pianist Dana Saul, and finally adding another layer of lyricism with trumpeter Adam O'Farrill on a three-part suite for quintet. Yet deep down, Sun has a warmth, richness and rhythmic vitality to his playing that at times brings Lester Young or Sonny Rollins to mind; and that aspect helps him stand out from other avant-gardists who rely more on head than heart for their appeal. One can hear this most clearly in his trio playing, where his instrumental voice emerges most forcefully. The trio cuts on Sustain of Memory largely had the feel of etudes, thoughrather brief pieces, of around two to three minutes each, trying out a series of different ideas. The five tracks on (Un)seaworthy, by contrast, are longer, with a fuller opportunity to appreciate the emotional depth and feeling that Sun brings to his music.
The opener, "Bad Lady," is drawn from "Oh, Lady Be Good," the first recorded meeting of Lester Young and Charlie Parker in 1946. Sun takes the two saxophonists' solos and merges them, using a deftly evolving rhythmic structure to add surprise and unpredictability to the piece. At almost nine minutes, it offers the perfect showcase for Sun's intrepid improvising, both precise and tenacious, while also utilizing the strengths of Stinson and Honor, who move from subtle intensity to fervid excursions at a moment's notice. And the piece ends with a lovely finish, with Sun tossing off a delightful, breathy riff.
The other pieces possess the same dualism: thoughtfully crafted and at times even cerebral in conception, yet with enough underlying sentiment to prevent their becoming exercises in abstraction. "Seaworthy" is emotionally direct, with a melodic power that offsets the piece's shape-shifting meters. "Latinate" lays down another rhythmic maze, this time with Stinson's exceedingly nimble bass work leading the way, and with Honor's marked ability to keep the piece swinging despite its knotty contours. The drummer also excels on "Prelude/Cathedral of the Perpetual Hustle," where after an invigorating solo he skillfully negotiates an elusive ballad tempo that seems ever-so-slightly out of sync. And the album ends with a flourish with the energizing "Facsimilate," where a bit of elliptical funk surges under another resonant solo from Sun, who somehow remains perfectly locked in with his partners in the midst of his exploratory flights.
If there's a complaint to be made here, it's that the album feels too brief at just 35 minutesparticularly after the cornucopia that was Sustain of Memory. But Sun's prodigious talents signal that there will be much more music to come, and probably sooner rather than later.
Bad Lady; Seaworthy (Unseaworthy); Latinate; Prelude/Genuflecting at the Cathedral of the Perpetual Hustle; Facsimilate (Unlike You).
Kevin Sun: saxophone, tenor; Walter Stinson: bass; Matt Honor: drums.
Title: (Un)seaworthy | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Endectomorph Music
Post a comment about this album
FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZAll About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELPTo expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
About Kevin Sun
Instrument: Saxophone, tenorArticle Coverage | Calendar | Albums | Photos | Similar Artists