Hyuna Park Brings Her Melodic, Artfully Composed Piano Jazz to an Outdoor Gig in Queens

by delarue

Pianist Hyuna Park writes vivid, translucent songs without words. Like a lot Korean-born jazz artists, she’s equally informed by the High Romantic as well as traditional American sounds. And she tells a great story. She had the good fortune to release her latest album Her Morning Waltz – streaming at Bandcamp – in 2019, with bassist Myles Sloniker and drummer Peter Traunmueller. She’s playing an early-evening outdoor gig on the trailer out back of Culture Lab in Long Island City on August 14 at 5 PM.

She opens with the album’s title track, taking a solo, Debussy-esque first verse before the music grows more spacious as the rhythm section come in and the trio develop a genial, spare jazz waltz. Park’s penchant for subtle but emotionally impactful thematic variations really pays off at the end.

Track two is titled The Boy From Ipanema. Park builds around the famous tropical tune, then veers further outward and upward as Sloniker pedals a catchy latin soul riff. She traces an eventful trajectory in Flight of Migrants, from graceful triplet clusters to a mighty peak, then a momentary, minimalistic calm before the drama resumes.

Park leaves the narrative path for some unbridled bounding around in The Stars Fell on Seoul: with Traunmueller’s loose-limbed solo, this is a real meteor shower. Her incisive chords contrast with a gentle clave swing in They Can’t Take That Away From Me, the most expansive number here; Park’s long descent to a quiet, reflective tableau is one of the album’s high points.

Driving in New York, as Park sees it, involves a lot of potholes and lane changes: just when it seems the coast is clear, here comes that clown trying to beat the light! It’s the funniest track on the record.

Park flips the script with The Way to the Stars, an unselfconsciously gorgeous, Chopineque ballad. She opens Grandpa’s Clock as a fond, catchy reflection, shifts into funkier territory, her incisive pedalpoint over a somber, bowed Sloniker solo. Then she goes on a scramble to coalesce with a coy chime riff before a return to the saturnine second theme: time clearly left some ravages behind.

Park takes her time, solo, with the album’s soberly rippling, pensive concluding tableau. She deserves to be vastly better known and is someone to keep an eye on.