Helen Sung | Helenistique

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Jazz: Bebop Jazz: Piano Jazz Moods: Instrumental
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by Helen Sung

Together with master drummer Lewis Nash and young bass phenom Derrick Hodge, pianist Helen Sung tackles some of jazz's most beloved standards and delivers a sparkling gem of a jazz piano trio CD.
Genre: Jazz: Bebop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. H*town
Helen Sung Trio
3:03 album only
2. Lover
Helen Sung Trio
4:18 album only
3. Sweet & Lovely
Helen Sung Trio
6:48 album only
4. Voyage
Helen Sung Trio
7:11 album only
5. Willow Weep For Me
Helen Sung Trio
4:56 album only
6. Where or When
Helen Sung Trio
4:40 album only
7. Black Narcissus
Helen Sung Trio
6:05 album only
8. Bye Ya
Helen Sung Trio
5:49 album only
9. Cottontail
Helen Sung Trio
3:06 album only
10. Carolina Shout (Solo Piano)
Helen Sung Trio
3:12 album only
11. Alphabet Street
Helen Sung Trio
4:01 album only
12. H*town (Reprise)
Helen Sung Trio
2:08 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
PLEASE NOTE: for ordering copies of the physical CD, visit amazon (USA) or Fresh Sound Records (international).

Pianist Helen Sung is establishing herself as a remarkable young artist. Her playing has been called "marvelously imaginative," "astonishing"; and 'Helenistique' (her 2nd CD on Fresh Sound Records) is sure to build on the success of her debut CD 'PUSH' (2003).

A graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at New England Conservatory, Sung studied with the jazz greats - Ron Carter, Clark Terry, Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Heath, Jackie McLean...to name a few!

Presently based in New York City, Helen maintains a busy schedule of performing, touring, and recording, and has worked with such jazz luminaries as Clark Terry, Regina Carter, Steve Turre, and legendary saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter.

"Helenistique" finds her in the timeless jazz piano trio setting, and the selections are mostly jazz standards (except for the cheeky original H*Town), but that's just the beginning of the story! Sung writes in the liner notes:

"I've always wanted to record a CD of jazz standards - I enjoy the challenge of making a standard "mine" and here are
some of my favorites...now it is a joy to share it with you - we hope you enjoy our story, we hope you enjoy our song."

Join Helen, the great drummer Lewis Nash, and young phenom bassist Derrick Hodge as they perform "refreshingly original" takes on some of jazz's most beloved songs - Rodgers & Hart's "Lover" and "Where or When"; Ann Ronell's "Willow Weep for Me"; Duke Ellington's "Cottontail"; and many more.

And visit www.helensung.com for more stories!



to write a review

Owen McNally - Hartford Courant

"...excellent, high octane release."
Helen Sung, a pianist with classical chops and jazz street smarts, is on a roll this year, completing her first international tour as a band leader and now riding the wave of this excellent, high-octane release.

Although Sung was a semifinalist in the 1999 Thelonious Monk Jazz Piano competition and has worked for such renowned band leaders as Clark Terry, T.S. Monk and Regina Carter, she hasn't yet received the recognition she merits for her dazzling playing.

Right from the first track - an original dedicated to her hometown of Houston - Sung's singing lines and bright, crisp sound come shining through as fleet and fine as Phineas Newborn.

Whatever tune she plays, whether Thelonious Monk's "Bye Ya" or Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus," becomes her own thing. Rodgers and Hart's "Lover" glides as elegantly as a classic Fred and Ginger waltz before rocketing into 4/4. Prince's "Alphabet Street" dances to a funky backbeat, then surges into hard-swinging jazz.

Sung's bouquet of evergreens ranges from a lover's heartfelt reading of "Sweet and Lovely" to a finger-popping, foot-stomping romp through "Carolina Shout," the venerable James P. Johnson's rollicking tour de force.

Sung's sidemen, Lewis Nash, a brilliant, empathetic drummer; and Derrick Hodge, a phenomenal young bassist, are totally in sync with their leader's imaginative improvisations and arrangements.

Dick Bogle - Skanner Newspapers

"...once this...is heard for the first time, she will convert the listener to an
This young pianist studied with some of the masters, including Ron Carter, Clark Terry, Barry Harris and Jackie McLean.

Helen Sung, heard on this release with bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Lewis Nash, is creative and has a unique sound. Because of her sheer artistry, once this relative unknown is heard for the first time, she will convert the listener to an unabashed fan.

Her individualistic style is captured on tunes like "Lover," "Sweet and Lovely," "Cotton Tail," "Bye Ya," "Willow Weep for Me" and more.

John Fidler - AllAboutJazz.com

"...quietly astonishing piano playing..."
The album's strongest feature is the musicians' shared sense of celebration. Not only does the trio's sound project great affection for this music, but the performers demonstrate a ready affinity for each other's contributions. The band churns through Kenny Barron's “Voyage,” one of the most harmonically rich numbers on the album. The sound is suffused with a sense of exploration, and each player digs deep during solos. Sung's left hand drives the music as surely as Nash's crisp precision on the snare or Hodge's percolating bass...[for the full review visit AllAboutJazz.com]

Tad Hendrickson

"A fine second album, there appears to be no sophomore slump for Helen Sung."
The Spanish label Fresh Sound New Talent continues to live up to its name with Helenistique, the second album from the pianist Helen Sung.

Here joined by drummer Lewis Nash and bassist Derrick Hodge, the Houston native takes on a set jazz classics, sometimes swinging hard on a song while at other times absolutely laying the tune to waste - the manic version of Rodgers & Hart's "Lover" qualifies as the latter while a tender reading of "Sweet and Lovely" is definitely the former.

No matter which way the pianist is leaning, she brings a musicality to her solos that makes even the ferocious playing go down easily.

She's also well served by Hodge and Nash -- both are with her every step of the way and offer tasty solos of their own.

A fine second album, there appears to be no sophomore slump for Helen Sung.

Jill McManus - NJ Star Ledger

"...bursting with freshness and confidence..."
In her successful 2003 debut, "Push," Chinese-American pianist and composer Helen Sung focused on her originals. Her impressive new CD, bursting with freshness and confidence, is mostly standards. Her creative, full-bodied playing here, supported with brio by ace drummer Lewis Nash and upcoming bassist Derrick Hodge, attests to her arrival as an accomplished mainstream player. Sung's "Sweet and Lovely" is a sassy mid-tempo romp. She peppers a fast-paced "Lover" with lines in double octaves. After an abstract intro on Kenny Barron's "Journey," she takes off with authoritative dexterity, and there is a solid bass solo by Hodge and some crisply explosive stick work by Nash. "Willow Weep for Me" is in 6/4, Monk's "Bye Ya" in odd meters, and "Cottontail" in bold swing. She even does a bravo version of James P. Johnson's challenging "Carolina Shout." Sung's original, "H*town," for her hometown Houston, is a giddily rhythmic blues intrigue.

Anne Ehrlich

Yummy. She's amazing.

Chris Kidwell

Helen Sung has amazing talent; this CD is proof.
Helenistique is an impressive second effort. All the innovation and finesse of Push, but with refreshing new creativity.