Having established herself as an integral young performer on the NYC jazz scene these past few years, Korean born, Brooklyn based Sukyung Kim breaks ground on her recording career with her eclectic, emotionally impactful debut EP Lilac Hill.
The five track set reveals the multi-talented artist – currently in the Master’s program in Jazz Performance at NYU – as a graceful and lyrical, passionately swinging and melodically and harmonically insightful pianist and keyboardist who all at once pays homage to her idol Keith Jarrett (on the spritely, whimsical romp “Bluebird”) while creating her own aesthetic based on the classic jazz fusion of his heyday.
Inspired by her dream of a purple hill and the feeling it gave her of being safe and sound, Kim’s playful, high powered opening title track showcases not only her own piano prowess but that of her explosive featured soloists, alto saxman Ethan Helm and guitarist Paul JuBong Lee. Beyond that tune’s freewheeling bustle, Kim embraces a more straightforwardly melodic, easy swinging and richly improvisational approach on Stargazers,” and a penchant for building rhythmic momentum to reflect various moods on the final, Fender Rhodes driven tracks “Summer Days” and “California.”
The shifting dynamics of these final two are created in the service of nostalgic yet illuminating musical storytelling. In five tunes, she shares so much of her personal and musical lives and leaves us excited for more. If you’re looking for one of the next bright lights in contemporary jazz, accepting Kim’s invite to climb that Lilac Hill is a sure way to experience the future.