As debut albums go this is a pretty good opener. Pianist Han is still in her early 20s, and once you get past her provocative stance on the front of the CD there is some half-decent music to be had here.
Many of the tunes are shared efforts between the leader and drummer Bill Wysaske, wrapped around Sondheim’s “Pretty Women” (from the musical Sweeney Todd), Joe Henderson’s “A Shade of Jade”, all backed up by “Is That So?” from Duke Pearson.
There is a maturity in Han’s playing, regardless of the tempo; her single-note runs are dazzlingly delivered and she understands what not to say behind a soloist. Her main problem (for very few musicians arrive fully formed) is to find her own voice in a music world replete with technically gifted pianists. But one look at her gig list for 2019 indicates that there are plenty of believers in her talent out there.
Crime Zone benefits from the inclusion of Walter Smith III on five numbers. He always brings authority to the table and Han’s mentor Wysaske knows exactly how to kick things along.
Connie Han might just find that distinctive voice and build a career with legs to it.
(1) Another Kind of Right; (2) Crime Zone; By the Grace of God; Pretty Women; (3) Southern Rebellion; (4) Gruvy; (3) A Shade of Jade; Member This; (2) Is That So?; (3) Extended Stay (60.46)
(1) Han (elp); Edwin Livingston (b); Walter Smith III (ts); Brian Swartz (t); Bill Wysaske (d). Los Angeles, 2018. (2) as (1) but Han (p) and omit Swartz. (3) as (2) but omit Smith. (4) as (3) but Han (elp).
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