by Willard Manus
the name of Connie Han. The youthful pianist/composer has burst upon the
jazz scene in an explosive way, thanks to the recent release of two albums,
IRON STARLET and CRIME ZONE.
CRIME ZONE came first (in 2018). Working with her mentor and collaborator,
drummer/composer Bill Wysaske--plus bassist Edwin Livingston and saxophonist
Walter Smith III--Han made her jazz debut at 21 on the piano and Rhodes
synthesizer, with impressive results. Her remarkable style, sound and
range captured the attention of critics and public alike, winning their
"The intention of my music is to continue a legacy of tough, primal,
raw but still intellectually engaging straight-ahead jazz," Han has
said. "I am an aspiring star in this music, but I am not a naive,
uncertain girl that people wrongly associate with that term."
Her keyboard-drum partnership with Wysaske is a fruitful one. They wrote
seven of the ten tracks on CRIME ZONE and played on all of them, with
a ferocious dedication to music "that is driven by complex and sophisticated
IRON STARLET, which was just released by Mack Avenue Records, is equally
as gritty and fiery as CRIME ZONE--check out tunes like "Boy Toy"
and "Dark Chambers"--but there are numerous changes of pace
as well. "Captain's Song," for example is a blues (written by
Wysaske) which Han and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt bring to life in warm, expert
fashion. Han is equally tender and eloquent on "Detour Ahead,"
the classic Lou Carter/Herb Ellis tune.
At 23, Connie Han has earned the attention and respect of the jazz world.
Chances are, she will go on from here to invigorate it.