Before & After: Helen Sung

IMG_0001Along with Beyoncé Knowles, Robert Glasper and Jason Moran, pianist Helen Sung is among the celebrated alumni of Houston, Texas’ High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. After preparing for a classical concert career, Sung fell in love with jazz, graduated from the Thelonious Monk Institute and went on to work with Clark Terry, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Regina Carter and T.S. Monk while also touring internationally with her own groups. We met for this midnight listening session following her quintet performance at the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival in May. Sung’s new recording as a leader, Anthem for a New Day, is her first for Concord Jazz.


1. Kenny Barron

“Triste” (from #Kenny Barron & The Brazilian Knights#, Sunnyside). Barron, piano; Lula Galvão, guitar. Recorded in 2012. Continue reading

2013 Favorites

make_a_listI love music, but with each passing year I grow less interested in ranking or rating it, for reasons I’ve explained here. Ambivalence aside, I still get year-end email and calls at the radio station asking for the list, and I’m always pleased that Francis Davis taps me for his jazz critics poll, now co-sponsored by NPR.

So that’s the context for this list of year-end favorites. It should go without saying that there was so much great music released in the past 12 months, I could have easily come up with a very different list based on impulse, urge or notion. Continue reading