Choi Sun Bae

Freedom: Solo Trumpet Improvisations

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Korean trumpet king Choi Sun Bae may look a little like Chuck Mangione with his choice of dress, hat, and beard, but that' s where the similarity ends. That this is a solo trumpet record in itself is not so strange. There are precedents for such things. That this solo trumpet record is a debut recording is rather remarkable. What separates the 12 selections here -- besides their titles -- is the use of technique to convey emotion. The elements are minimal: mouthpiece, trumpet, hand mute. The breathing techniques are complex and wide-ranging, including circular breathing to achieve multiphonics. The tempos don't shift appreciably here; they seem to be unified in their meditative gaze on the lyricism and song form involved in the creation of a solo recording like this. Sounds are employed as mannerisms, accent points, and notes to mark timbral shifts and spatial terrain. Singling out individual pieces is ridiculous here since the music is on the spot and will never exist as such again, but in many ways, after hearing this repeatedly with its subtle, graceful air and elegant presentation, I wish they could. This is a very fine beginning.

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