Bar code: 8427328421690
"I first heard Helen Sung when she was a student at the Monk Institute when it was located at the New England Conservatory. I was impressed with her flawless technique, great imagination, great harmonic conception and real understanding of the language of jazz. Since that first hearing, I've also know Ms. Sung as a brilliant composer as you will also hear when you put this CD in the player. I expect great things for Ms. Sung and great, challenging music for her."
"It's always a good sign when the opening cut has you snapping your fingers about fifteen seconds in.
Push is pianist Helen Sung's debut effort. The song that elicited the fingersnaps is Conundrum, a swinger that features some clean-lined tenor sax work by Marcus Strickland. It hits a groove early, and a couple of minutes in Sung sparkles into an effervescent solo. The pianistwho semi-finaled in the 1999 Thelonious Monk Jazz Piano Competitionexhibits some sharp angularities again when the sax blows back in.
Vivacity is the word that keeps coming to mind as I listen to Ms. Sung's music. Her approach brims with life, solid compositions and fine playing. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, sans saxwith percussionist Jeffrey Haynes joining the pianist, drummer Brian Blade and bassist Richie Goodsbubbles and jumps. Helen Sung isit's obvioushaving a helluva good time as her imagination soars.
The disc's title tune features a marvelously imaginative Sung solo and some of Strickland's finest blowing on the set. Sung has a way of keeping the listener on her/his toes as the rhythm guys settle into a groove behind her while she takes the melody on some surprising twists and turns.
The set is a nicely arranged mix of trio/quartet, uptempo/ballad offerings, and Marcus Strickland switches from tenor to soprano to keep the sound interesting. The song Bittersweet sounds just like its title, with the soprano and piano playing the opposing emotions. The Waiting Game sounds Monk-ish, and the record closes on a perfect note with Thelonious's Ugly Beauty, a pensive little solo gem in the hands of Helen Sung."
Dan McClenaghan -All About Jazz (January 2004)
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