Track of the week: Helen Sung, Feed the Fire, Sunnyside ****

Drawn from Quartet + first thing's first Helen Sung's fast and furious take after the introductory exploratory scene setting is delivered on Geri Allen's 'Feed the Fire' (which goes back to the 1990s on Allen's 1994 Blue Note album Twenty One with …

Published: 20 Aug 2021. Updated: 29 days.

Drawn from Quartet + first thing's first Helen Sung's fast and furious take after the introductory exploratory scene setting is delivered on Geri Allen's 'Feed the Fire' (which goes back to the 1990s on Allen's 1994 Blue Note album Twenty One with Ron Carter and Tony Williams and later on Some Aspects of Water that Storyville released three years later) has been extraordinarily well-mastered and the zestful playing packs a considerable punch. The thing flies.

The clarity of the piano sound is so direct you'd swear it was in the room with you. Sung is special. I know that from hearing her a few times best of all in London's Soho in late-2015 when the US player was in clarinettist Oran Etkin's all-star band in the Pizza in the club's basement under Dean Street. A beautiful cadential figure from Sung at the end provided a big highlight of the evening and stays with me like it's still resounding.

Next month sees the release of all the tracks on Quartet + as a complete album on New York jazz label Sunnyside cooking with gas a lot this year with piles of fine albums already. Co-produced by mainstream swing violin star Regina Carter, the concept is a core band plus the strings of the Harlem Quartet, John Ellis is on sax, David Wong double bass and the fine erstwhile Blanchardian & Ellingian Kendrick Scott on drums. The album also sees Sung originals and arrangements of pieces by Carla Bley, Mary Lou Williams, Marian McPartland and Toshiko Akiyoshi.

Helen Sung, above. Photo: Kat Villacorta

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Why Kai, Deep Fishing, Jazzland ****

This shouldn't work. It should just seem flakey. Dance music, huh? Except your scepticism could not be more wrong. And is it even that? Among heart-shaped leaves/the white fish gleams, red tail. Soft lotuses sleep. Ah the delights of koi (in the …

Published: 20 Aug 2021. Updated: 29 days.

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This shouldn't work. It should just seem flakey. Dance music, huh? Except your scepticism could not be more wrong. And is it even that? Among heart-shaped leaves/the white fish gleams, red tail. Soft lotuses sleep. Ah the delights of koi (in the delightful haiku by Jennifer Wong). Hang on it's Kai not koi. Haven't a clue much about who this Norwegian fisherjazzer is except what I managed to glean from an interview with the secret eclectic website. As for who's the geezer as much as why on earth, step forward don't be coy Kai as in canny synth player and pianist Kai von der Lippe who tells the website perhaps not surprisingly ''I have a background in both electronic club music and acoustic jazz, and in this project I wanted to combine the two worlds.'' Perhaps more surprisingly given how completely contrasting Deep Fishing is he says ''in the period when I made this EP, I listened a lot to Christian Wallumrød Ensemble.''

That throws me. Clearly boogying to the ensemble or cocking an ear even didn't influence anything he did much given how austere an outfit the Wallumrøds can be. Perhaps his confessed liking in the same interview for the less preserved in aspic sound of Floating Points did filter through a bit more. In any case Deep Fishing is certainly refreshing and excellent, the EP rolls along mightily ('Wherever' has a cracking synth bassline) and does not sound plastic or paint-dryingly repetitive as so much of the idiom does. Prepare for a few surprises although these aren't contained in the impression of birdsong here on 'Futuma' (surely we need something resembling a warble quota on the plundering of birdsong?) but more the winning baroque sense on 'Crab' that Why Kai brings to the table like a tricorn-hatted TikTok tsar overseeing the thrum and pleasurable shudder of it all as he surveys the fall of civilisation and a desire instead to descend to the Mariana trench and preside over a few hapless sea cucumbers accompanied by a few beats instead.