Helen Sung Trio at Ronnie Scott’s

Helen Sung. Photo copyright: Monika S. Jakubowska

Helen Sung Trio – with Kush Abadey and Josh Ginsburg

(Ronnie Scott’s. 3 October 2022. Photos by Monika S. Jakubowska, Words by Sebastian Scotney)

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Helen Sung‘s piano playing is completely dazzling – don’t just take my word for it (*). I was sitting among some other pianists at Ronnie Scott’s on Monday evening. They were completely transfixed: not just by Sung’s vast dynamic range from the ethereally evanescent to the utterly massive, not just by the unbelievable rhythmic independence of her two hands, not just the ability to have a huge resource of ideas and yet for no texture ever to sound crowded…. but I was clocking something else – and what this superb and evocative set of pictures from Monika Jakubowska shows so well (thank you MSJ!) is something else: the radiant joy and positive energy which Sung imparts in the role of bandleader.

Helen Sung. Photo copyright: Monika S. Jakubowska

Her programme, as she explained, for this concert on the first night of a European tour, was mostly from her most recent album of music by women composers, Quartet +. Mary Lou Williams was celebrated, as was Geri Allen, Carla Bley…

Kush Abadey. Photo copyright: Monika S. Jakubowska

Kush Abadey is one of those drummers who has purpose, intent and precision in every sound he makes. He hears everything and responds to it. As a listener you know where you are, and it is a very good place.

Joshua Ginsburg. Photo copyright: Monika S. Jakubowska

Bassist Joshua Ginsburg has the hardest role, to find a way of responding to the cascade of creativity coming from the piano. So it is just as well he is the quick-thinking , inventive and virtuoso player he is.

Helen Sung. Photo copyright: Monika S. Jakubowska

Channelling Walt Whitman in this picture:

  1. Happiness not in another place, but this place . . not for another hour, but this hour.”
  2.  “Do anything, but let it produce joy.”

You get the idea.

Applause at the end. Photo copyright: Monika S. Jakubowska

Ronnie’s really should have been fuller… but those of us who were there, and who were applauding when this last picture in the set was taken, knew we had heard something special.

(*) This use of the word ‘dazzling’ is a direct quote from Marian McPartland. The context is in Sebastian’s review of Quartet + for The Arts Desk

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