"...it all sounds new" — TNYCJR
The first review of Trio (out February 2, 2018) is in the January 2018 issue of the New York City Jazz Record. Full review by Donald Elfman below:
Review by Donald Elfman
The New York City Jazz Record, January 2018
Kevin Sun has created a challenging, academic yet intensely thoughtful set f pieces derived and inspired, though not slavishly, from solos of past saxophone masters. Sun and his sympathetic partners, bassist Walter Stinson and drummer Matt Honor, offer improvisations reflecting a group ethic and individual creation.
Sun has a sound on the tenor that, no matter how intense or dark the music, remains bright and airy. So, for openers, on “Transaccidentation,” in a roiling 15/8 meter, the elements—fragments of a Charlie Parker tune, delicate yet insistent bass and drums and breathily persuasive saxophone—coalesce into a unified statement. Sun also manages to invoke players like Art Pepper and Stan Getz.
The leader wrote all but three of the tunes and they are showcases for both his instrumental prowess and ability to compose for three voices. “Three Ravens” and “Bittergreen” are deemed here ‘negative re-harmonizations’ of the chestnuts “Lover” and “Sweet Georgia Brown”, respectively. The striking thing is that the source material is worked into a setting where it all sounds new.
“One Never Knows Now”, leading into “Does One, Now Does One, Now Does”, are the group improvisations and the former features the leader on the C melody saxophone, an early jazz instrument that was considered ungainly but used most notably by Frankie Trumbauer. The sound helps the tunes sound freer, more unusual. The C melody returns for the album’s biggest surprise, “All of Me”.
The tunes almost all have aural challenges—staggering meters of “Ballroom Dancing”; abstraction in time and melody in clarinet-led “Loading Screens” and “Deliver the Keys”—but the inventiveness of the trio bring them to places listeners can explore.