Jihee Heo: Are You Ready? (OA2 Records, 2021)

March 27, 2021 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jihee Heo: Are You Ready?

South Korean pianist/composer Jihee Heo’s new album is a brisk yet refined set of eight compositions charting the progress she’s made so far as an artist. A graduate from the Manhattan School of Music, she’s been a part of the NYC music scene for a decade. After considering making this album for a while, she finally took the plunge after re-reading a passage from Art Spirit by Robert Henry, stating that no one can be final, but they can record their progress, and their work can guide others on their path. An excerpt from the passage is spoken throughout the opening title track, as Heo’s piano gracefully dances around the rhythm section of bassist Marty Kenney and drummer Rodney Green. “Blurring the Rules” starts out sparse and bluesy, but soon gets up to dance, frequently changing steps and showing off different moves. The Latin-tinged “Dancing in the Sorrow” and dusky “Dark and Light” both have titles that reflect the mixture of joy and sadness expressed in the music. The most striking cut is “Trust”, which features rapper Saidu Ezike delivering lyrics written by Heo about her frustrations as an Asian female living in New York. Then a song called “Oh, New York” seems to express hope and an appreciation for having the opportunity to live and work in the city, despite the toxicity.

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