Dark, meditative and bristling with textures, the Near East Quartet’s new self-titled album represents the best of frontier-crossing jazz.
Band leader Sungjae Son—who plays the tenor sax and bass clarinet—is joined by guitarist Suwuk Chung, drummer Soojin Suh and vocalist Yulhee Kim on the record. They swerve through Son’s moody compositions and a few pieces plucked from the pansori canon, a traditional Korean folk music.
Standout track “Pa:do” captures the four-piece’s eclectic but elegant style. It’s based on pansori, with Kim’s operatic vocals front and center, but running underneath is a hypnotic distorted guitar riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Electric Wizard song.
Listen to Near East Quartet—it’s also the band’s debut on ECM—here: