korea culture dc

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • youtoube
  • Instargam

EXPLOREPerforming Arts


Jazz Brings Us Together with Korean Breath

The Korean Cultural Center Washington, D.C. proudly presents a groundbreaking performance by Korea’s cutting-edge jazz fusion group, The World Music Group SE:UM, in concert with saxophonist Craig Alston and his jazz ensemble at Motor House in Baltimore, Md. This joint performance will introduce Korean jazz music on the world stage as a key part of contemporary Korean music, and celebrate harmony among Baltimore’s diverse regional communities through cultural exchange and a shared love of jazz music. Audiences won’t want to miss this stellar aural mash-up of traditional Korean music and contemporary jazz featuring top Korean and American artists.

SE:UM is one of Korea’s most innovative ensembles, drawing instrumental, vocal, and improvisation techniques from both Korean and Western jazz traditions. This event will feature U.S. premiers of their major works, including Abyss, The Other Side, Smell of the Water, Seven Steps One Bow, and Sa-Gye-Hwa. Craig Alston is a multi-instrumentalist who is best known as the saxophonist for jazz soul band Fertile Ground, and whose versatility has allowed him to play with musicians across genres, from The Temptations to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Jazz Brings Us Together with Korean Breath
WHAT: Joint Korea-US fusion jazz performance 
WHO: The World Music Group SE:UM, The Youngjoo Song Trio
WHEN: Wednesday, July 27, 7:30 pm
WHERE: Motor House (120 W. North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21201)

About the Artists 
The World Music Group SE:UM was established in 2011 by young musicians in Korea striving to build a new unfettered ecosystem of culture and arts. They employ wide-ranging musical communication through experimental collaborations with Western music and instruments, while continuing the traditions of ethnic Korean music. Traditional sounds are mixed 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).
Since their debut performance in 2013, SE:UM has been invited to Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival to perform their signature work, Korean Breath, which was also selected as a showcase performance by Seoul’s Performing Arts Market and the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. SE:UM received the Festival Award in Vocals at the Jeonju International Sori Festival and the Gold Award for creativity at the World Samulnori Competition. Their debut album was nominated for Best Crossover and Best Performance at the 2015 Korean Music Awards.

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.

Craig Alston, in addition to performing as a saxophonist with Fertile Ground, also plays bass and keyboard. He has performed with legends such as Larry Willis, David Murray, Oliver Lake, John Hicks and Jimmy Heath. Craig is currently working as the clarinet/saxophone teacher for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Orchkids program at Lockerman Bundy Elementary School. He is also touring with award-winning contemporary jazz guitarist Drew Davidsen as keyboardist and musical director. He will perform with the following four fellow local artists. 

Frank Russo is an in-demand performer, recording artist and educator who resides in Maryland and teaches at Towson University and Anne Arundel Community College. He is also an artist and educator for Sabian Cymbals, Baltimore Drums, and The Vic Firth Education Team, performing clinics at festivals & universities. Frank is a Summit Records Recording Artist whose has gained national recognition and praise from Downbeat, Jazztimes, and Modern Drummer, among others.

Blake Meister has performed and recorded with a diversity of renowned musicians, including Larry Willis, Gary Thomas, Marc Copland, David Kikoski, Gary Bartz, Steve Davis, and Warren Wolf. Meister is currently a bassist for the American Studio Orchestra, a multi-media, cross-genre ensemble. As an educator, he serves on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music at the Johns Hopkins University.

Alan Blackman has performed at Blues Alley, the Kennedy Center, and many festivals and venues from San Francisco to New York. He participated in the Banff Center residency program in November of 2013 and JazzAhead in Germany in 2014. Alan is currently working on his first jazz composition book, tentatively titled Changing Standards, which will include an audio CD of his original arrangements.

Theljon Allen is a native of Baltimore, Md. who began playing trumpet in the 6th grade and went on to attend college at New School University. He has had the opportunity to perform and record with music acts such as Ledisi, Janet Jackson, Lonnie Liston Smith, and Cyrus Chestnut, among others.