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아리랑 - Lee Pan-Geun & Korean Jazz Quintet 78

There isn’t too much jazz you can find in Korea, so this might be one of the earliest examples to find.

I just hoped it had something more typically Korean in it too, but it simply is jazz-styled. Mostly the bass/drums play a predictable jam theme on which the piano can improvise a bit, while the themes are led smoothly by sax or sax and trumpet. The first track smoothly goes from a moody Pharoah Sanders introduction and back towards such an improvisation. The second track takes a more Latin mood rhythm. The recognisable jazz themes “Rainy Night in Georgia”, Softly as a morning Sunrise”, My Favourite things” succeed to moodily build them up. It doesn’t give them a surprising approach, but it succeeds being very enjoyable in a traditional jazz fashion.

The favourite airplay tracks might be the last three tracks. Although the first track has a good groove too, it might be a bit long to completely surprise and convince with full attention.

The fifth track stands out a bit better for its exceptional odd rhythm on congas, drum and bass with a certain irregularity.

Also, I had to listen few times to the album before I realized, but the 6th track, after that, brilliantly fits with the sort of singing and melodic feel with Korean folk themes, still it directs so strongly towards jazz to make it fit perfectly to the jazz tradition with a nice groove as well, it makes an interesting association embedded within a different tradition, of jazz.

The last track, “My favourite Things” is a very nice, smooth improvisation with the theme on sax, and jazz piano moves of finger improvisation.

Japanese Mini LP edition. Will soon (2014) be re-released on Beatball Records. :

One of the only albums of jazz we've seen from the Korean scene of the 70s – but a really special little record that aims to echo some of the most spiritual modes from the US scene of the time! The record's the brainchild of arranger Lee Pan Guen – who doesn't play on the record, but leaves the music to a hip lineup that features trumpet, tenor or soprano sax, piano, bass, and drums plus percussion – often used in a way that's either modal or slightly lyrical, depending on the tunes. A few tracks are remakes of American numbers, but done at a level that's very personal and fluid – echoing the spiritual currents of the original tunes on the set – and titles include "Han O Baek Nyun", "My Favorite Things", "Gasiri", "Bin Ba Da", "Arirang", and "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise". :

A Korean jazz record that echoes some of the most spiritual modes from US '70s jazz. This record is the brainchild of arranger Lee Pan-Geun, who doesn't actually play on the record, but leaves the music to a hip line-up that features trumpet, tenor or soprano sax, piano, bass, drums and percussion.


Plays Arirang and other assorted classics (aka. Jazz! Jazz! & Wondrous Jazz​!​)​Jazz: 째즈로 들어본 우리 민요, 가요, 팝송

released October 24, 2013 Lee Pan-geun: arrangement, producer Kang Dae-gwan: trumpet Kim Su-yeol: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone Son Soo-kil: piano Lee Soo-young: bass Choi Se-jin: drums Ryu Bok-sung: bongo

There is no jazz in Korea"

"Music critic Choi Kyung-sik's liner note for the 1974 record by Shin Joong-hyun and the Yup Juns starts off with this stark statement. Though it may have been a rhetorical device to emphasize the birth of an album embodying Korean rock, the statement itself holds nevertheless when one considers that Korean jazz has never enjoyed a place of its own - not in the 8th Army scene nor the civilian general scene. As is usually the case in other countries, jazz was the strongest pillar upon which Korean popular music was founded, during the 1930~1940s. For musicians, jazz was the biggest stage that everyone aspired to. Violinist and Latin music virtuoso Kim Kwang soo, as well as standard jazz / big band pioneer Eom Tomi are widely considered the founders of Korean jazz and even band music in general - such is the extent of their musicianship and influence. Other great names in Korean popular music like Lee Bong-jo or Gil Ok-yoon rose up under the 'roof' of these originators. However, during the 1960s the mainstream of Korean popular music shifted to pop and gayo. Many musicians moved to different scenes and Korean jazz entered a dark era. It is maestro Lee Pan-geun - the central figure of this recording - who through a strong background in theory and basics preserved the embers of Korean jazz and passed in on to posterity. Lee taught himself jazz during the years following the Korean War. He mastered both the theory and practice of jazz, mentoring great musicians in Korean jazz such as Choi Sun-bae, Kang Tae-hwan, and Jung Sung-jo among countless others. He has also fostered many top singers/composers who are still active in the gayo scene. This recording, <Jazz: Plays...>, can be regarded as the first work that saw direct involvement by maestro Lee. The production of this album can be attributed to the passion Eom Jin - a hit producer known to this day for his eccentric work - had for jazz. In addition to the titular value of an Eom Jin production, Eom Jin emphasized album concepts and overall soundmaking. He had maestro Lee put together an ensemble of the best musicians from the Lee Pan-geun crew, his sights set on creating a definitive record of Korean jazz. This album, recorded in 1978, is important because it is probably the only surviving authentic record of Korea's jazz scene at the time. Featuring mainstays of the 1970 jazz scene like Kim Soo yol(sax) and Kang Dae-gwan(trumpet), as well as creative musicianship from Lee Soo-young who on an electric (as well as upright) bass, the album also features drumming from Choi Se-jin, who had just returned to Korea and drew from his experience overseas to weave a varied rhythmic texture. On piano is the jazz 'prodigy' Son Soo-gil, better known as a regular member of the KBS orchestra, whose interpretation of jazz would have remained a part of oral tradition had it not been for this record. The fact that 'folk' comes first in the album's title reflects the emphasis maestro Lee had on the localization of the jazz phraseology and his yearning for the discovery/development of a Korean phraseology of jazz founded upon a mutual understanding of traditional Korean music. The process as well as the result can be found in the album. The grand opening track 'Arirang', clocking in at over 10 minutes, exemplifies the symbolic value of the album. The spiritual intro leads into jazz-funk drum breaks, infectious electric bass lines, and unpredictable piano playing by Son Soo-gil (who maestro Lee calls a "bona fide genius" in an interview). It almost sounds like something one would expect from a prestigious spiritual / soul jazz label such as Black Jazz or Strata East - a rare moment in Korean jazz indeed. The drumming by Choi Se-jin, who had just returned to Korea after playing in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, is influenced by soul jazz and boogaloo patterns completed throughout the 1970s. Tracks like 'Han-o-baek-nyun' and 'Gasiri' lay down the idea and method of a Korean interpretation of spiritual jazz. Space Sarang and Janus are some of the keywords that emerged in Korea's jazz scene with the release of this album. These venues would set the stage for movements regarded as important to this very day. However, the cultural soil at the time was still unforgiving, and many musicians had to leave the jazz scene in order to earn a living. Recordings by the few Korean jazz musicians who remained are still few and far between. This certainly adds to the importance of this album - a flower that sprouted from barren soil - not only as a record but also as a stimulus to today's musicians. " Park Min-jun , DJ Soulscape/360 Sounds


Plays Arirang & Other Assorted Classics LP only

CR 69024RE 19 Nov 2018

1."Arirang" (10:18) 2."Bin Ba-da" (5:42) 3."Bi Nae-ri-neun Bam-e: Rainy Night In Gerogia" (5:03) 4."Hae Mal-geun A-chim: Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise" (2:55) Side 2 1."Gasiri" (6:43) 2."Han-o-baek-nyun" (7:00) 3."Na-ee Mo-den-geot: My Favorite Things" (8:43)

"40TH ANNIVERSARY OF S. KOREAN SPIRITUAL JAZZ HIGH-WATER MARK.Originally recorded in 1978 and released in '79, Plays Arirang & Other Assorted Classics was considered the first recording of modern bop done by Korean musicians. The album blends free and modal jazz elements within a Korean folk framework, exploring soul jazz and boogaloo patterns that make the album sound like one of the finer Strata East or Black Jazz titles with hints of David Axelrod's drum breaks. As virtually no other jazz recordings were taking place at the time in Korea, the album was recorded in a rock band / gayo style, which has resulted in a unique work that sounds unlike anything you've likely heard before. If the opening track "Arirang" is any indication, this album is a sprawling odyssey of jazz gold. Original copies of this record fetch close to $1,000 if you can find a clean copy, so this reissue is the next best thing. 7 Tracks in total pressed onto translucent blue vinyl. Includes extensive liner notes on 12 page booklet in English + Korean and housed in a gatefold sleeve with Obi-strip. Don't sleep!"

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