Best of 2017

‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)
© 2017 Han-earl Park

“These are the records we believe will stand the test of time from this year.” Honored and flattered to find Sirene 1009 in Jazz Right Now’s (and JRN @ JazzTokyo’s) best-of-2017 list, and to find my work in such amazing company. And, again, big thanks to John Morrison for the wonderful review:

Sometimes violent and revelatory listening experience that infuses modern aesthetics with the spirit of the ancient…. Ancient and primordial with ideas as open as the night sky, it is not hard to imagine that some of humanity’s first music would have sounded something like this. [Read the rest…]

Sirene 1009 also makes it to both Dave Foxall’s Jazz Journal and a Jazz Noise end-of-year lists:

Sirene 1009 don’t so much push the envelope of improvisation as tear it into small pieces and eat them, just to spite any listener preconceptions…. Sirene 1009 may just be the auditory experience that [Derek] Bailey’s label [‘non-idiomatic improvisation’] has been waiting for. [Read the rest…]

Elsewhere, Sirene 1009 makes David Menestres’ top 10 at Free Jazz Blog, Lee Rice Epstein’s list at El Intruso, and Dave Sumner’s at Bird is the Worm.

Big thanks to John Morrison and Cisco Bradley of Jazz Right Now, Takeshi Goda of JazzTokyo, to Dave Foxall of Jazz Journal and a Jazz Noise, to David Menestres and Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz Blog, to Lee Rice Epstein, and to Dave Sumner for all their support during 2017!

[About this recording…] [Bandcamp page (order CD/download)…] [All reviews…]

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‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)

* Limited edition glass-mastered CD. CD includes additional material (artwork, etc.) not included in the download version of the album.

† Both digital and physical purchases give you streaming via the free Bandcamp app, and option to download the recording in multiple formats including lossless.

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London performance presented with funding from Culture Ireland, and support from SLAM Productions.

twist and turn, scrape, squeak and melodic (reviews: Anomic Aphasia)

CD cover of ‘Anomic Aphasia’ (SLAMCD 559) with Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora, Nick Didkovsky and Josh Sinton (artwork copyright 2015, Han-earl Park)
‘Anomic Aphasia’ (SLAMCD 559) © 2015 Han-earl Park

Brittle? Tough and dense? Accessible and captivating? Exhilarating? Or verging on lyrical? John Eyles at All About Jazz gives ‘Anomic Aphasia’ (SLAMCD 559) with Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora, Nick Didkovsky and Josh Sinton ☆☆☆☆½:

The guitarists’ [Nick Didkovsky’s and Han-earl Park’s] two very different styles could have clashed, but they find ways of fitting them together that leave space for the saxophone. [Catherine] Sikora could have been crowded out but she skilfully adapts to the soundscapes created by the guitars, and integrates her playing without compromising her style…. At times that playing does fit Park’s “noisy, unruly complexity” description, but when they are in full flow together, their exchanges fit together perfectly and are simply exhilarating, sometimes verging on lyrical….

Key to the success of the album’s middle three tracks is their line-up of Park and Sikora with Josh Sinton on baritone saxophone or bass clarinet; one guitar plus two reeds works better than one saxophone plus two guitars. Aurally, the separate contributions of these three individuals are easier to determine. Sinton’s confident, fluent improvising stands out as this trio’s trademark sound…. The interweaving of the trio’s three strands works effectively, with credit going equally to each member. [Read the rest…]

— John Eyles (All About Jazz)

In his ☆☆☆☆ review, Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz finds a “great set of free jazz trio work” in which “every twist and turn, scrape, squeak and melodic idea contributes to this adventurous and exciting recording”:

The album clocks in at a generous 71 minutes, and none of it is wasted. Starting with the 20 minute ‘Monopod’ with the cast of Sikora, Park and Didkovsky, things are off to a (briefly) squeaky start, then track begins in earnest, with the tenor sax’s free form melody cutting through the slashing tones of the guitars. What starts brittle, grows tough and dense. The ‘conversation’ between the sax and the guitars is intense at times, and at other times tender. Generally speaking, Park tends to be more atmospheric while Didkovsky is more biting.

The track ‘Pleonasm’ features the trio of Sinton, Sikora and Park. The rich tones of Sinton’s baritone sax and bass clarinet contrast nicely with Sikora’s vivacious playing on the tenor and soprano saxes. The track begins with Park’s minimalist approach—he employs a vocabulary of textures and taut phrases as the saxes reply with staccato bursts of melodic runs. The song, like the others, is abstract but there is something at the nexus of the trio’s playing that remains accessible and captivating.

‘Stopcock’ is the long burning closer to the album. Back to Sikora, Park and Didkovsky, the trio delivers a fascinating performance that starts with arpeggios and rhythmic picking lending a somewhat metal feel to the introduction. The two guitars play in parallel for a while—some time reaching agreement, other times in friendly competition. When Sikora joins, she delivers a vigorous melody that pulls the track together.

Between the four musicians, Anomic Aphasia is a great set of free jazz trio work. Every twist and turn, scrape, squeak and melodic idea contributes to this adventurous and exciting recording. [Read the rest…]

— Paul Acquaro (Free Jazz)

[About this recording…] [All reviews…]

Also from SLAM Productions…

‘io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) CD cover (copyright 2011, Han-earl Park)

io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) [details…]

Performers: io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself), Han-earl Park (guitar), Bruce Coates (alto and sopranino saxophones) and Franziska Schroeder (soprano saxophone). [About this project…]

© 2011 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2011 SLAM Productions.

‘Mathilde 253’ (SLAMCD 528) CD cover (copyright 2010, Han-earl Park)

Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528) [details…]

Performers: Charles Hayward (drums, percussion and melodica), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Ian Smith (trumpet and flugelhorn) plus Lol Coxhill (saxophone). [About this ensemble…]

© 2010 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2010 SLAM Productions.

Free Jazz: Catherine Sikora, Han-earl Park and François Grillot, ‘Tracks in the dirt’

Catherine Sikora, Han-earl Park and François Grillot, ‘Tracks in the dirt’ (copyright 2013, Clockwork Mercury Press)
Design and artwork by Eric Mingus (© 2013 Clockwork Mercury Press)

Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz Blog writes that Catherine Sikora, Han-earl Park and François Grillot’s Tracks in the dirt (Clockwork Mercury Press 003) is an “enjoyable listen for open ears”, and that “chance encounters and smart musical ideas that make this recording so effective.”

The opening track, ‘Helix’ contains some of my favorite moments of the recording. Sikora’s soprano sax sounds like it is drawing a line from each hit of the bass, with Park coloring in the spaces between. Park, with whom she also released Cork 04-04-11, is an understated and sympathetic accompanist throughout.

Feel the force of Sikora’s playing too—halfway through the second track, ‘The Chopping Block’ her soprano is clear and cutting, the melodic lines spinning and swirling around Park’s textures and Grillot’s rhythmic pulse. [Read the rest…]

Paul Acquaro (Free Jazz)

[More about this recording…] [All reviews…]

Also by Catherine Sikora and Han-earl Park

Catherine Sikora, Ian Smith and Han-earl Park: Sikora-Smith-Park (Cork, 04-04-11)

Sikora-Smith-Park (Cork, 04-04-11) [details…]

Performers: Catherine Sikora (saxophone), Ian Smith (trumpet) and Han-earl Park (guitar).

(cc) 2012 Catherine Sikora/Ian Smith/Han-earl Park.

Free Jazz: Paul Dunmall, Han-earl Park and Mark Sanders (Birmingham, 02–15–11)

Paul Dunmall, Han-earl Park and Mark Sanders: Dunmall-Park-Sanders (Birmingham, 02-15-11)
At Free Jazz Blog, as part of his review of the state of the guitar in the outer realms of improvised music, Paul Acquaro describes Paul Dunmall, Han-earl Park and Mark Sandersdownload album as an “expert lesson on group interplay and spontaneous compositions”.

…[Han-earl] Park’s guitar is sliding and sputtering, delivering accents and tonal clusters neatly between Mark Sanders pulsating percussion and Paul Dunmall’s intense and melodic saxophone work. The three musicians are nicely balanced, each instrument an integral voice in the improvisation. Dunmall is the main voice as the first track picks up, and when Park’s guitar emerges as the driving force, he relies on creating biting textures and rhythmic figures intersecting with percussion.

Sanders and Dunmall are veterans of free jazz and have worked together many times in the past. Here, as usual, Sander’s percussion work is invigorating, pushing the musicians and directing the energy. There are moments where he drops out, or holds back, that reveal how powerful of a presence he is. Dunmall seems to always have the most appropriately unexpected lines, whether the solo voice or providing comping. Park is a newer voice, and he holds his own with this virtuosic crowd. His approach on the electric guitar veers between clean and slightly overdriven tones, and has unique melodic approach, favoring fragments and tonal clusters, often filling in the spaces and painting with contrasting colors. [Read the rest…]

Paul Acquaro (Free Jazz)

[More about this recording…] [All reviews…]

Also available for download…

Murray Campbell, Randy McKean with Han-earl Park, plus Gino Robair and Scott R. Looney: Gargantius Effect +1 +2 +3 (Nor Cal, 08-2011)

Gargantius Effect +1 +2 +3 (Nor Cal, 08-2011) [details…]

Performers: Murray Campbell (violins, oboe and cor anglais), Randy McKean (saxophone, clarinets and flutes) with Han-earl Park (guitar), plus Gino Robair (energized surfaces, voltage made audible) and Scott R. Looney (hyperpiano).

(cc) 2012 Murray Campbell/Randy McKean/Han-earl Park/Gino Robair/Scott R. Looney.

Han-earl Park plus Marian Murray: Park+Murray (Cork, 07-29-10)

Park+Murray (Cork, 07-29-10) [details…]

Performers: Han-earl Park (guitar) plus Marian Murray (violin).

(cc) 2012 Han-earl Park/Marian Murray.

Jin Sangtae, Han-earl Park and Jeffrey Weeter: Jin-Park-Weeter (Cork, 01–24–11)

Jin-Park-Weeter (Cork, 01-24-11) [details…]

Performers: Jin Sangtae (electronics), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Jeffrey Weeter (drums and electronics).

(cc) 2012 Jin Sangtae/Han-earl Park/Jeffrey Weeter.

Han-earl Park and Franziska Schroeder: Park-Schroeder (Cork, 03-26-09)

Park-Schroeder (Cork, 03-26-09) [details…]

Performers: Han-earl Park (guitar) and Franziska Schroeder (saxophone).

(cc) 2012 Han-earl Park/Franziska Schroeder.

Catherine Sikora, Ian Smith and Han-earl Park: Sikora-Smith-Park (Cork, 04-04-11)

Sikora-Smith-Park (Cork, 04-04-11) [details…]

Performers: Catherine Sikora (saxophone), Ian Smith (trumpet) and Han-earl Park (guitar).

(cc) 2012 Catherine Sikora/Ian Smith/Han-earl Park.