Tuesday 6 January 2015


Ah I found this ages ago and have been meaning to share it ever since. I'm not usually a fan of crazy jazz, or maybe I don't know what jazz is. Can jazz be anything? Does it have to sound jazzy? Hmm. Maybe this is "contemporary" jazz. I found this because I don't really subscribe to many people on YouTube and the one person I do subscribe to is this guy from South Korea who films lots of music and culture stuff.

Anyway yeah, this is the Sungjoon Kim Quartet (or 김성준 쿼텟) performing a track simply called 'No. 2' – except this time around it's a sextet, with an additional saxophonist and a zither type thing. This is actually called a yang-geum, which is a traditional Korean instrument, and this would make more sense in this instance given that SJQ (as they are known) is a South Korean entity of jazz.

It's headed up by jazz saxophonist, Sungjoon Kim. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, he moved to NYC and sat in on many jam sessions, taking the new experiences back with him to South Korea in 2010, where he makes music and teaches as a professor at Soongsil University and Baekseok University. Jun Kim is on guitar, Doc Skim is playing synth bass, and Woongwon Hahn is on drums. This is SJQ. The girl playing the yang-geum is possibly Hwiseon Choe and the additional (tenor) saxophone guy might be Jeeseok Kim.

The track, performed live at VELOSO in Seoul, is a mad slice of bustling energy, a large helping of hot and sticky music, sultry and humid, permeated with cool calm in the form of constant laid-back guitar chords, all the while the bulging bass supports beneath it all. It begins with saxophone flourishes, a kind of brass call-and-response, the yang-geum solo is particularly fresh, hearing it in this jazz context gives it a whole new meaning, a twist on tradition.

The guitar solo is a break in the craziness after some crashing dynamic punctation from the drums, a soothing oasis from the screaming saxophones, which soon itself bleeds back into high-energy, rapid-fire playing, building to a crescendo which drops us off full circle, to the ascending saxophones that played at the start.

Whew. I don't ever write about jazz and I'm sorry if you don't like it but you should give it a listen anyway, it's really cool. It's 11 minutes long but I'm sure you can deal with it.

Sungjoon Kim Quartet Social Media Presence ☟
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