All About Jazz Performance Review: Connie Han Trio at Smoke Jazz Club on October 4th, 2018

“Combustible is the first word that sprung to mind as pianist Connie Han opened her first set by spring loading her wily rhythm-mates, bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer/musical director Bill Wysaske through a twisty, bop energy homage to Freddie Hubbard, which, as she explained in her opening intros, she had recently composed.

After some humorous banter concerning her soon to be released debut Crime Zone on 
Mack Avenue Records, she embarked confidently into one of the tunes from it. "Gruvy" settled quickly into its groovy salsa swing. Her hands kin to the keyboard, roaming purposely across the landscape. Livingston proved himself an expressive soloist as Wysaske held center and Han vibrantly accentuated and punctuated both solo and groove. "The End of a Love Affair" featuring a crisply played solo from Han, was a tough, swinging salute to Brill Street and served as a spunky notice that Han clearly knows where the music comes from and how she can bend it to her will. "Crime Zone" with its punchy back and forth between bass and piano, sprung instantly to life.”

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All About Jazz Album Review: Crime Zone

Twenty-two year old pianist Connie Han comes at you flashy, fast, and furious on her Mack Avenue debut Crime Zone. But it's flashy and fast with more than enough sense of history and creative curiosity to keep your ear pinned to whatever device you're listening on. 

"Another Kind of Right" jumps from the start with short staccato bursts from Han that implore her born-in-the-groove bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer/producer/mentor Bill Wysaske to leap into the fray with her. Saxophonist Walter Smith III and trumpeter Brian Swartz begin winding around the groove and we're off to the races as Han's spirited solo shifts from acoustic to Rhodes, igniting flash-pots of post-bop and fusion. The time defying title track follows, with Han fully displaying a free-ranging, improvisatory flair and an inherent kinship with her instrument. Smith, to his credit, keeps up with and pushes her forward, towards the tune's exciting trio led false stops. 

Han has no trouble letting all her musical gifts hold centerstage at appropriate times throughout Crime Zone, and her interpretive strengths prove formidable. "Pretty Women" from Stephen Soundheim's 1979 musical thriller Sweeney Todd gets an engaging read, as she leads Smith, Wysaske, and Livingston through a languid, effortless take. Ditto Joe Henderson's hard bopping "A Shade of Jade." Han, her left hand a polyrhythmic, percussive fury, just has her way here, soloing madly with a willful and youthful confidence. 

"Southern Rebellion," another of the seven twisty Han/Wysaske originals, is a C-minor lightning strike, locking drummer and pianist in for a very heady run for the money as is "Extended Stay," another fun-house trio workout. Han proves plenty on her energetic and invigorating debut. Here's to her future and our appreciation of it.

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Musical Memoirs: CRIME ZONE Review

“Connie Han is an exceptional pianist with a style and a presentation all her own.”

“And polyrhythmic she is! This is one of those recordings that just seems to get better and better as it progresses. Here is a young, blossoming pianist who doesn’t just play expertly, but she has a passion brightly burning in her presentations. As she flowers, her obvious talent is glowing successfully, like a sunrise peeking through a cloudy morning.”

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French Jazz Website TRIBUNE2LARTISTE: CRIME ZONE Review

“An album that bears the mark of the passion of a young pianist with clever audacity. Listening, however, which carries the risk of an addiction, the audacity of the young Connie Han and its provocative nature make the stranger more exciting and the percussion of his game so alluring. A Crime Zone which one would like to tread too often, for the happiness of the senses. We strongly recommend it.” (Translated from French)

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New York Times: 14 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend

CONNIE HAN TRIO at Smoke (Oct. 4; 7, 9 and 10:30 p.m.). At just 22, the Los Angeles-based pianist Ms. Han is one of the more promising young musicians in straight-ahead jazz. Her biggest inspiration comes from the blues-based, modal jazz of the 1960s: post-bop by musicians like Wayne Shorter and Cedar Walton. After a brief stint at U.C.L.A., Ms. Han abandoned the academic track and began working professionally. Perhaps that helps account for the fact that despite her youth, Ms. Han’s playing seems to have years of real-world experience baked into it. On Thursday she celebrates the release of her debut album, “Crime Zone,”with Edwin Livingston on bass and Bill Wysaske on drums.
212-864-6662, smokejazz.com

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New York Times: Pop and Jazz Fall Preview

"This 22-year-old pianist is the rare musician with fearsome technical chops, a breadth of historical knowledge and enough originality to write tunes that absorb your ear easily. She is about to release her debut album, “Crime Zone,” a collection of originals that source their ideas from 1960s post-bop and contemporary straight-ahead, but never sound overly studied. Mack Avenue. Oct. 12. (Russonello)" -New York Times

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