Back in February our track of the day was the excellent 'Night Person' by pianist Hayoung Lyou who debuts with Metamorphosis.
The pianist-composer, just about the most exciting brand new discovery so far in 2020 it is blindingly obvious, as reported back then in our earlier heads up writes in the liner notes that the title track itself was composed “after attending an Ethan Iverson performance at the Village Vanguard. When I came home, I sat at the piano and searched for a melody that reminded me of Ethan.”
Following studies at Berklee and the New England Conservatory in Boston, taught by Joanne Brackeen, Jason Moran, Helen Sung and Iverson, Lyou – who is now based in New York – on the album is to be heard with alto saxophonist/clarinettist Jasper Dütz and tenor saxophonist Jacob Shulman (the producer of the record), bassist Simón Willson and drummer Dayeon Seok. Metamorphosis also includes a guest vocal by Wonmi Jung.
The title track is now available, via YouTube, as is 'Reason' via Bandcamp + there too the deftly laconic 'Night Person', drawn from the Endectomorph Music label release. The writing style is distinctive. There is very little harmonic movement, speaking generally, instead a plangent sense of floating. It certainly has a blues connotation deep down there (I guess Vijay Iyer is also an inspiration), the harmonies hover between a hint at the atonal but tend to sweep back into a bittersweet melodic melancholia that seems poised to deal with a ballad and bebop past but does not actually want to go there. The ensemble arrangements are very natural and intuitive and when a solo emerges, say the clarinet of Jasper Dütz, it isn't forced and Lyou accompanies with empathy, something you just can't fake.