"...a band that simply demands attention."
"A quick disclaimer: I’ve played frequently with Kevin Sun, a saxophonist and jazz blogger based in New York and Boston. Singing his praises, then, is therefore not the most ethically sound thing for me to do. But Great On Paper, Sun’s primary outlet as a composer, is a band that simply demands attention. In addition to Sun, the band features fellow New England Conservatory graduates Isaac Wilson on piano, Simón Willson on bass, and Robin Baytas on drums.
If you are familiar with that hallowed Boston institution, the music on Great On Paper will come as no surprise. It is heavily influenced by the sound of ECM records, starting with its first track, “Winnings.” The melody is built from a simple threenote phrase drifting over a fast-walking rhythm section, with Sun’s meaty solo contrasting the laser-like attack of Wilson’s piano work. The group also covers the Messiaen chorale “O Sacrum Convivium,” electing to simply play the piece down rather than deconstruct it too heavily. Willson’s offering, the appropriately named “Slimy Toboggan,” pulls a bait-and-switch: it presents itself as a slithery swing number before disintegrating into sparse free improvisation. There are also more straightforward forays, ranging from Wilson’s straighteighths epic “Torsion” to “Negative Bird,” a Steve Colemanesque take on a classic Charlie Parker blues form. There’s also a loose take on the standard “I Hear A Rhapsody” to cap things off.
The repertoire in total is a grab bag of approaches, sometimes seeming to coalesce around a particular sound before veering into another style entirely on the next track. This befits a first-time record from this group of tasteful improvisers, all eager to demonstrate their abilities. They certainly play together like a band, and record number two should only serve to cement that fact further."
—Tree Palmedo, Jazz Society of Oregon
Originally published here.