by Tom Haugen
An esteemed pianist who is from Seoul, South Korea, though Dabin Ryu started her music journey at the age of 3 in the area of classical music, these days she’s firmly involved in jazz sounds on this debut where 10 originals are fleshed out with much help on guitars, brass and drums.
Ryu begins the album with “Light”, where her agile keys are met with a trio of soulful saxophones thanks to Nathan See, Boyce Griffith and Jarod Apple amid Willis Edmundon’s proficient drumming that won’t go unnoticed, and “I’ll Never Know” follows with a calmer pace where Kevin Scollings’ warm guitar and Benjamin Young’s strategic bass complement Ryu’s precise piano.
In the middle, “Wall (Pt. 1)”, the only track with vocals, highlights Anthony Marsden’s expressive pipes alongside a bare setting of much beauty, while “Moon” mesmerizes with a pair of alto saxophones from See and Zoe Obadia in a timeless jazz climate. “Stillborn”, the lone solo tune, then displays Ryu’s divine playing as incredible detail unfolds with much skill.
Landing near the exit, “Taxi Driver” offers a dreamy setting of piano, bass and drums dancing around sublime melodies that can rumble with some firmness, and “We Will Meet Again” finishes the listen with a swift, busy execution of playful jazz where the brass shines alongside punchy drums, frisky bass, and, of course, Ryu’s finger acrobatics.
A Berklee College of Music graduate who also holds a master’s degree in jazz studies from the Manhattan School of Music, Ryu produced, composed and arranged this entire first record, and she did an incredible job. Quite possibly the most exciting rising artist in the area of jazz, Dabin Ryu is a name we’ll be hearing much more about.