(Mack Avenue Records)
Having turned many heads with her 2018 breakthrough release Crime Zone, pianist Connie Han continues to fulfill the promise of a rising jazz star with her latest release, Iron Starlet (Mack Avenue). Just 24 years old, Han plays and writes like a seasoned hard-bopper, but with a youthful energy and a perspective shaped by the 21st century. It’s not difficult to hear the influences of Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea and Kenny Kirkland on the Los Angeles-raised musician, who’s joined once again by drummer and producer Bill Wysaske and tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III on the new album. The partnership between Han and Wysaske has been a productive one, and the drummer contributes a few original compositions to the program, including “Captain’s Song,” our selection. The tune carries an introspective vibe, with Wysaske’s whispering brushes and Ivan Taylor’s hushed bass notes shading Han’s delicate, crystalline statements. Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt adds to the self-reflective mood, his mellow brass adding another layer to this truly contemplative session.