Jihee Heo

Jihee Heo goes with the flow

By Steve Hart

There’s a preciseness to Jihee Heo‘s playing that delivers a crisp – almost classical performance –while at the same time leaving the listener in no doubt they are listening to jazz. If there is anything close to being an audible round square…This is it.

Crisp, precise, while bouncing along, sometimes tender, other times sounding like rush hour, Jihee proves herself a masterful performer who delivers an album that is beyond measure.

Supported by the excellent musicianship of Alexander Claffy (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums), and on two tracks –  The Hidden Giant and The Late Bloomer – Vincent Herring (alto sax), the combo complement each other in well-balanced performances.

While not her first album, Flow features eight wonderful cuts, each a joy to behold. Two standouts for me though are New Yorker Step, and In a Sentimental Mood.

The South Korean-born pianist has called New York home for 15 years now, and is clearly embracing the city and its jazz heritage.

Her studies in Amsterdam and at the Manhattan School of Music blended experimental jazz with classical and bop, but the rich connection she discovered with drummer Joe Farnsworth and bassist Alex Claffy several years ago awakened sounds she’s had stored away since she first encountered jazz.

A steady presence in New York’s clubs, this trio’s journey is documented on Flow, which was, appropriately enough, recorded by Maureen Sickler at Rudy Van Gelder’s famed studio in Englewood, NJ.

NEW YORKER STEP (Jihee Heo, Joe Farnsworth and Alex Claffy)

Jihee Heo – piano 
Alexander Claffy – bass 
Joe Farnsworth – drums 
Vincent Herring – alto sax (6,8)