Helen Sung, "Sung with Words," at Jazz Standard - New York City Article
Helen Sung, "Sung with Words," at Jazz Standard Follow @nyccitiview
Helen Sung: “Sung with Words”
Guest starring Cécile McLorin Salvant
116 E. 27th, (212) 576-2232
Thursday, December 13
Sung with Words, the new release by Helen Sung, is a very easy album to love. Subtitled “A Collaboration with Dana Gioa,” the pianist and composer presents a combination of her original musical compositions and new texts by the veteran wordsmith (and former head of the NEA); the end result demonstrates that although modern jazz and contemporary poetry are both frequently accused of being academic and inaccessible - and sometimes the charge actually sticks - the two forms bring out the best in each other. The jazz-and-poetry movement peaked 60 years ago with Charles Mingus, Langston Hughes, and Jack Kerouac (not to mention Ken Nordine’s Word Jazz) but rather than a revival or recreation, this is a whole new conceptualization of how the two forms might work together. In addition to Mr. Gioa’s recitations of his own words, the album features four exceptional singers, including longtime favorite Carolyn Leonhart, but, even better, the Jazz Standard show not only features Ms. Leonhart but also the celestial Cécile McLorin Salvant. In the band: trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Reuben Rogers, percussionists Kush Abadey and Samuel Torres, and saxophonist John Ellis (who plays a lovely bass clarinet part on “Lament For Kalief Browder”). Alas, I’m not currently a Grammy voter, but Sung with Words is worthy, as they say, of such consideration.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)