Jazz critic Scott Yanow reviews Connie's debut album The Richard Rodgers Songbook


"Connie Han is a young Los Angeles-based pianist who makes her recording debut as a leader on this CD with her very original interpretations of eight Richard Rodgers songs. She is joined by bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Bill Wysaske, both of whom are important parts of the sound of her trio. Their close interplay and ability to react immediately to her musical ideas consistently uplift the music.

Ms. Han is the main solo voice throughout this continually intriguing outing. Her modernizations of the vintage songs make even the most familiar tunes such as “There’s A Small Hotel” and “Some Enchanted Evening” sound brand new. But while she often alters the chord structure, sometimes adds tricky accents and rhythms, and creates new advanced harmonies, the melodies of the Rodgers songs are usually kept close by. Rather than deconstructing the songs, Han often reinvents them.

“The Sweetest Sounds” opens the set with a transformation that often refers to the theme even while transforming it into 21st century jazz. The ballad “He Was Too Good To Me” is given a dreamy and atmospheric treatment that ultimately becomes quite dramatic. In contrast, “There’s A Small Hotel,” while alternating dark and light moods at the beginning, is overall a bit playful and even includes bits of stride piano before the trio gets a chance to joyfully swing. “It Never Entered My Mind,” which is combined with “Spring Is Here,” is gloomy and downbeat as were Lorenz Hart’s original lyrics.

“Some Enchanted Evening” is given an ominous bassline and completely reinvented, with the theme not emerging until a couple of minutes into the performance. “Bewitched Bothered And Bewildered” is treated with relative tenderness and affection even while it is molded into something new. Perhaps because it is so obscure, “I’ll Tell The Man In The Street” retains its original melody and character while being interpreted as a jazz waltz. Ending the set, Connie Han and her trio play an uptempo original romp (well titled)  “Red Herring” on the chord structure to Have You Met Miss Jones.

It is clear while listening to Interprets The Richard Rodgers Songbook, that Connie Han is a youthful innovator who, with any luck, will be creating thought-provoking music for many years to come."

— Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists, The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76