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EXPLOREPerforming Arts

Jazz Meets Korea image

Jazz Meets Korea

Jazz Meets Korea

WHAT: Joint Western jazz and traditional Korean music crossover performance 
WHO: The World Music Group SE:UM, The Youngjoo Song Trio
WHEN: Tuesday, July 26, 8:00 p.m. (Doors open 6:00 p.m.)
WHERE: Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club (7719 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814)
HOW: Tickets at bethesdabluesjazz.com ($20, plus $10 minimum food & beverage)
CONTACT: Amy Baik (202) 587-6152

Two acclaimed, cutting-edge Korean music groups, The World Music Group SE:UM and the Youngjoo Song Trio, meet for the first time in this groundbreaking joint performance introducing the unique intensity of Korean jazz blended with traditional American styles, at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience a stellar aural mashup of traditional Korean music, contemporary jazz, and dreamlike trance-fusion styles. Jazz lovers in particular will appreciate a freeform interaction of diverse world music styles and Korean instruments with jazz music at their core. 

SE:UM is one of Korea’s most innovative ensembles, drawing instrumental, vocal, and improvisation techniques from both Korean and Western jazz traditions. Having performed around the world, including headlining Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this event will feature U.S. premiers of their immersive major works, including AbyssThe Other SideSmell of the WaterSeven Steps One Bow, and Sa-Gye-Hwa. Jazz pianist Youngjoo Song, currently an active performer in Seoul and New York City, quickly climbed the music charts in her native Korea to become one of her country’s leading jazz artists. This event will feature original works from her classic albums BetweenTale of a City, and Leaving Again, as well as York Avenue, inspired by the mixture of solitude and hope that she finds in her adopted American city.

This event is intended to introduce Korean jazz music to American audiences in the Washington D.C. region and on the world stage as a key part of contemporary Korean music. This year the Korean Cultural Center Washington, D.C. also partners with the DC Jazz Festival, one of the major showcases of jazz music in the United States. Through the partnership with the DC Jazz Festival and the Inter-American Development Bank, the Korean Cultural Center Washington D.C. will present these two groups at the Embassy Series event on July 28 at IDB Enrique V. Iglesias Auditorium in Washington, D.C. for embassy and IDB members (private event). 

About the Artists 
SE:UM was established in 2011 by young musicians in Korea striving to build a unfettered ecosystem of culture and arts. Traditional Korean sounds mix with jazz, folk, and freeform styles to create an entirely new and exciting fusion. The ensemble is comprised of Sungwan Kim (saxophone), Sungbae Kim (contrabass), Seungkook Ha (trumpet & flugelhorn), Joon Lee (gayageum), and Minhyung Lee (Korean traditional percussions).

SE:UM aims to express the unique Korean characteristics of breath as a fundamental and cyclical concept in traditional Eastern music, whereas Western music follows the steady tempo of the heartbeat. SE:UM’s music thus flows continuously, following the nature of the instrument and instinct of the performer. Iconic Korean instruments such as the gayageum (12-stringed zither) and janggu (double-sided hourglass-shaped drum) blend with traditional Western brass and bass to elicit an entirely unique sound and rhythm. Through this combination, SE:UM strives to distinguish Korean jazz with dreamlike melodies and songs that embody the raw joy of Korean music.

“Transitioning between the slow and peaceful thrum of the contrabass to 
the eruptive trumpet and drum is seamless, as is the emotional attachment to each song.
The gayageum makes SE:UM’s music stand out, for its harmonious rhythm merges perfectly
with the jazz beats...It’s genuinely exiting!”
– Broadway Baby Media

The Youngjoo Song Trio is led by New York-based jazz pianist Youngjoo Song, a graduate of Sookmyung Women’s University, the Berklee College of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music. She quickly climbed Korea’s jazz record sales charts and has performed with many prominent jazz artists from South Korea and the United States. She headlined the Blue Note Jazz Festival in New York, among other major events, and twice won for Best Jazz and Crossover Album at the Korean Music Awards.

The Youngjoo Song Trio also includes Joonsam Lee on bass and John Davis on drums. Lee, born and raised in Seoul, Korea, moved to New York in 2007 and as a musician has explored bebop jazz, improvisational music, free jazz, rock, classical music, world music and Broadway musicals. He is an active performer at New York’s prestigious jazz clubs and venues, including as a bandleader, and has performed at festivals around the world. Davis, a prolific Floridian drummer, has been a New York staple of Afro-Cuban Jazz, and swing-style ensembles since his relocation to the big city. Davis describes himself as steadfast in his purpose to do what he does best, and does naturally—playing the drums.