WBGO Radar

Helen Sung: Anthem For A New Day

cover art for Helen Sung's CD "Anthem For A New Day"

For pianist Helen Sung, the title of her 6th album, Anthem For A New Day, speaks directly to her excitement about her new recording.

"Now I feel like it's all starting to come together: my playing, improvisation, writing and arranging. This one is who I am, not who I'm working on becoming."

A Tommy Flanagan piano solo unlocked the door which Helen threw open, resulting in first place honors in the prestigious Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition at the Kennedy Center, and club dates and tours with Clark Terry, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Mingus Big Band and Orchestra.

Quite a cast joins Helen here; Seamus Blake on tenor and soprano sax, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Reuben Rogers, drummer Obed Calvaire, Samuel Torres on percussion, John Ellis on bass clarinet. Special guests Paquito D'Rivera on clarinet and Regina Carter on violin also take part.

Sung's original "Brother Thelonious" features the group getting your immediate attention on this tribute to the jazz loving belgian ale makers. The foot-stomping, hand clapping (literally) version of Chick Corea's "Armando's Rhumba" is all Helen and Paquito, with Sung, Calvaire and Torres spicing it up with the hand/foot percussion.

"Hidden," another original, lets violinist Regina Carter and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen develop the gorgeous feel here, showing off Helen for the first time on fender rhodes, which she brings back smoking on the title track. Helen will surely capture you with her arrangements of Ellington's "It Don't Mean A Thing" and Monk's "Epistrophy."

There's a visit to the world of Stanley Cowell and a gorgeous expression of "Never Let Me Go", where the group's patience (too rare these days) makes you long to hear this music live. You' ll get your chance when Helen Sung appears with her group February 11 at Jazz Standard, to celebrate her anthem, which arrives on January 28 from Concord Records. 

         - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

Audio for this album is no longer available at /RADAR. Visit iTunes and Amazon to preview and purchase.

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