Youn Sun Nah
Youn Sun Nah is a Korean jazz vocalist with a large following in France. Born in Seoul, she was raised by musical parents and began her career as a member of the Korean Symphony Orchestra. Nah eventually left home in 1995 and moved to Paris, where she studied jazz and French chanson at the CIM Jazz School, one of the oldest jazz institutions in Europe. Although relatively new to the genre, Nah excelled at jazz, which she mixed with a healthy dose of Asian folk and avant-garde pop. Backed by her own band, she began climbing the French jazz charts with a series of quirky, elegant albums. Her success was initially limited to France and Korea, where Nah concentrated the bulk of her touring, but 2010's Same Girl helped spread her music to the rest of Europe, with some publications heralding her as the next Melody Gardot. ~ Andrew Leahey
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Jazz - Released September 24, 2010 | ACT Music
Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
If one were to listen only to "My Favorite Things," the Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein Great American Songbook standard that opens Same Girl, one might deduce that Korea's Youn Sun Nah is just another cabaret singer with a pretty voice. The kalimba with which she is accompanying herself as she sings -- the sole instrument heard -- lends a sense of purity to the tune, and although the vocalist avoids the usual routes taken with the song, there's no real reason to get excited. Yet. Then things get interesting, fast. As she works her way through material from sources as diverse as Randy Newman, Sergio Mendes, and Metallica -- yes, Metallica; she does a mean "Enter Sandman" -- in addition to two original compositions and a Korean standard, Nah establishes that, in fact, she is incontestably an original, a jazz singer of great range, complexity, emotion, and ideas. Precision timing and sharp diction mark Nah's approach as she traverses the lyrics, but it's not only her technical prowess that makes Same Girl (her second release as a leader on the ACT label, after having spent a decade with a French band) such a delight. For one thing, she is constantly full of surprises. On the Mendes tune, "Song of No Regrets," Nah could have followed the rule book and sung the number as a samba. Instead, she turns it into a near a cappella minimalist dirge, Lars Danielsson's cello bringing to the rendition an unexpected eeriness and majesty. Terry Cox's "Moondog" is something else altogether, all jutting angles and piercing barbs, Ulf Wakenius' guitar and Xavier Desandre-Navarre's drums seemingly flailing willy-nilly behind Nah's warbles, yet somehow making perfect sense in the context of the arrangement, even when Nah breaks the solemnity with a jarring kazoo solo, of all things. For a real taste of her ability to knock a listener out cold, though, Wakenius' "Breakfast in Baghdad" is the place to go: to call Nah a scat singer is like calling John Coltrane a guy who fooled around a bit with the sax. Nah is a wildwoman let loose, treating each syllable as a new adventure in acrobatics, the musicians flying free and fancifully behind her captivating, seriously stunning ravings. Youn Sun Nah doesn't simply interpret; any good jazz signer can do that. She gets to the root of a melody and a lyric, deconstructs it wholly, and then presents it in a way it's never before been heard. Not many around who can do that anymore. ~ Jeff Tamarkin
Vocal Jazz - Released May 19, 2017 | ACT Music
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
What better way of making a new record than surrounding yourself with new collaborators? That was the idea that Youn Sun Nah had for She Moves On. Four years after Lento, the Korean singer has taken on a close-knit group comprising John Zorn, Jamie Saft on the piano, the Hammond organ, the Fender Rhodes and the Wurlitzer (he also produced the record), and Brad Jones on the bass alongside drummer Dan Rieser, who worked with Norah Jones in Little Willies. But it is above all the presence of the guitarist Marc Ribot on five of these eleven tracks that draws attention. Surrounded by these four strong personalities, Youn Sun Nah explores a fairly varied repertoire that owes as much to rock as to folk, to rhythms as to lyrics, taking in covers of Joni Mitchell (The Dawntreader), Paul Simon (She Moves On), Lou Reed (Teach The Gifted Children), Jimi Hendrix (Drifting with a searing solo from Ribot) or the traditional Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair. Three original compositions, Traveller, Evening Star and Too Late, complete this album which is resolutely inspired by American music and which presents her impressive voice in a context which rightly recalls Norah Jones, or Melody Gardot. But Youn Sun Nah's vocal personality is strong enough that she never seems to be stepping on her illustrious sisters’ toes, and she offers, from the outset, a record that is all her own. © MD/Qobuz
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