First review of The Depths of Memory is in from The New York City Jazz Record:
The Depths of Memory
Review by Elijah Shiffer
The New York City Jazz Record (October 2023)
With The Depths of Memory, tenor saxophonist Kevin Sun continues to establish himself as an extremely ambitious composer. This new release, on his own Endectomorph label, is a sequel to his 2019 album The Sustain of Memory; both monumental double albums consisting of three extended, multi-movement compositions. both also have the same personnel, with Sun joined in various quartet and quintet lineups by Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Dana Saul (piano), Simón Willson and Walter Stinson (bass), and Matt Honor and Dayeon Seok (drums).
The leader’s music can be convoluted and esoteric, but all players do a great job of supplying the vitality and sensitivity that these pieces deserve. the leader gives everyone plenty of opportunities for individual expression. Saul is perhaps the most striking soloist, unleashing some impressive pyrotechnics in the first piece, “From All this Stillness”. Each composition is a story that draws the listener in through well-paced shifts of tempo and mood. the episodes of “From All this Stillness” seem to progress in a non-linear order, While the narrative is more direct in “the Depths in Slow Motion“, which takes up all of the second disc. the former piece has a nocturnal, perhaps subterranean feeling, driven by the gentle velvetiness of Sun’s sound on tenor.
The middle piece, “Eponymous Cycle”, is a continuation of <3 Bird, Sun’s stunning 2021 tribute to Charlie Parker. Here, Parker’s solo from a live recording of Ralph Burns’ “Keen and Peachy” gets completely reconstructed into a maze of interlocking melodies, sometimes slowed to a suspended animation. The source material is often difficult to discern, but the beauty of Parker’s lines comes shining through even in this distant setting. At the end of the fifth movement of “the Depths in Slow Motion”, arpeggiated phrases spring up in a close reflection of similar lines in “From All this Stillness”. This section adds a striking extra level of continuity, revealing the album as not just a collection of compositions but also an overarching, exquisitely constructed work.