Title - 'Iron Starlet'
Artist - Connie Han
With the release of her 2018 Mack Avenue Music Group debut, Crime Zone, 23-year old pianist/keyboardist Connie Han seized the attention of the jazz world and firmly established herself as a fast-rising star on the scene.
That stratospheric ascent continues on her captivating follow-up, Iron Starlet, due out June 12th, 2020.
Having now listened to the recording twice through, I can definitely report that the sumptuous, yet steeled core of this new album is rooted in its rhythmic drive; anchored by the trio of Connie, bassist Ivan Taylor and drummer/producer Bill Wysaske.
They are joined by the stellar frontline of saxophonist Walter Smith III (returning from Crime Zone) and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, an ideal pairing to realize the compelling blend of sophistication and grit that Connie herself imbues into every piece.
1. 'Iron Starlet'
3. 'Mr. Dominator'
4. 'For The O.G.'
5. 'Hello To The Wind'
6. 'Detour Ahead'
7. 'Captain's Song'
8. 'Boy Toy'
9. 'The Forsaken'
10. 'Dark Chambers'
This breathtakingly smooth, vibrantly alive sophomore album kicks things off in fine style with the electrifying title track, before slowing things down for the orchestrated pacing of 'Nova,' the mid-tempo piano key funk of 'Mr. Dominator,' the gentle frenetic work of 'For The O.G.' and then the lush 'Hello To The Wind' (complete with tempered tenor sax work from Walter Smith III).
Next up is the quietly opulent beauty of both 'Detour Ahead' and 'Captain's Song' (both showcasing how instruments barely touched, barely noticeably there in the background can still warmly embrace a track) with the upbeat 'Boy Toy' along next.
The album then rounds out with the playfully ornate 'The Forsaken,' and then comes to a close with the triumphant, almost celebratory 'Dark Chambers' (once again complete with a magnificent Walter Smith III interlude and also solid trumpet work from Jeremy Pelt).
When discussing her new album, Connie is unafraid of using the word tradition, secure in the fact that she’s not a throwback but a fresh voice inheriting a legacy of powerful voices and raw power expressed through jazz.
“This band can go from the blues to the esoteric,” she says. “But we always strive to bring out the darkness, grit and depth in this music as much as possible."
"Those are the elements that we’re inspired by and the values that we hold quite dear.”
“The intention of this music is to continue a legacy of tough, primal, raw but still intellectually engaging straight-ahead jazz,” she continues. "I am an aspiring star in this music, but I am not a naïve, uncertain girl that people wrongly associate with that term.”
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