Kevin Sun brings a fresh energy and and sense of adventure to the saxophone trio format on this CD. In the company of bassist Walter Stinson and drummer Matt Honor, he plays around with tone, rhythm and tempo, creating exciting music which blends the traditional and the experimental.
Sun's sax tone on "Seaworthy (Unseaworthy)" is full and melodic, as he circles, stutters and flows eccentrically, constantly moving as Stinson and Honor maintain a steady groove. He barrels through "Latinate" in high spirits as the rhythm gets into a Latin feel and Stinson takes an expansive, thumping solo. He starts "Prelude" off by vaulting up and down his horn, then Honor takes over, playing a busy, patterned drum solo with the deliberate touch of Ed Blackwell. This gives way to "Genuflecting at the Cathedral..." with spiraling eddies of tenor, and a slower, halting rhythm leading into saxophone blowing, with melancholy feeling in straight, unadorned lines as the bass and drums slow into a simmering groove.
The tracks "Bad Lady" and "Facsimilate (Unlike You)" owe the most to jazz tradition, in particular specific Lester Young solos. "Bad Lady" is inspired by a live recording of Young and Charlie Parker playing "Oh, Lady Be Good." It begins with the trio walking through a brittle, stop-start maze of melody, then changing to low, wistful tenor blowing over chiming bass notes and delicate cymbal work. This sound grows progressively louder and faster with Sun flying high as the rhythm section thumps and jumps. On "Facsimilate" the saxophonist begins by rolling and honking breezily over Stinson's and Honor's steady funk-laced beat. Before long he slides into an extended spell of intense crooning and bellowing as the rhythm section's funk begins to resemble a drunken tango. A bit of melody emerges through Sun's forceful swagger, momentarily revealing itself as this piece's origin, a 1937 recording of the old Jimmy McHugh tune, "Exactly Like You," by Young and the Count Basie band.
This relatively short album fits into and extends the jazz saxophone tradition. Kevin Sun and his trio make all manner of wild sounds but keep enough of a recognizable groove going in their music to make their woolly experiments feel comfortable. This is the work of mature musicians who respect the lessons of their elders but still have the daring and curiosity to carve their own paths.
Bad Lady; Seaworthy (Unseaworthy); Latinate; Prelude/Genuflecting at the Cathedral of the Perpetual Hustle;
Facsimilate (Unlike You).