Expat jazz quartet back at SACThe Ronn Branton quartet will be taking the stage once again for a summer concert at the Seoul Arts Center recital hall on July 10. The annual “Summer Night Jazz” concert will feature Branton on the piano, Don Gieles on the saxophone, Chris Varga on drums and Jeon Seong-sik on bass.
“It’s become a tradition for Branton to play two major concerts a year,” says Kim Chang-won of Homie Productions, the organizer. Those who miss the fourth edition of the summer show can expect to catch them at Christmas.
Branton, who studied jazz at Chicago’s DePaul University and worked in Washington, D.C. for 15 years, moved to Korea in 1998 to be with his Korean wife. She was involved in the concert industry, and he was able to find work here as a musician. Not only has he since become a fixture on the local jazz scene, he’s also helped develop it.
Branton has worked with the soprano Kim Won-jung on two albums, arranged music for “Between the Notes” by the late Kim Gwang-suk, a popular Korean jazz musician, and composed music for the nonverbal stage production “Tokebi Storm.”
In 2001 he began hosting concerts, often to sold-out audiences. It’s not only his skills as a musician that are recognized; his understanding and ability to play Korean music, and knack for developing a rapport with the audience, are also appreciated.
During one Christmas performance, he played Korean pop songs as well as traditional jazz favorites. In the album “Day Halfmoon,” with Kim Won-jung, he plays Korean children’s songs like “Halfmoon,” “Winter Trees” and “Autumn Nights.”
For the summer show, the quartet will be improvising on pieces by Duke Ellington and Kim Gwang-suk. Other jazz classics are sure to take on a new style.
The Branton quartet first took shape in 2000 in the now-defunct Pan Art Hall in Seoul’s Seocho-dong. Varga, who also attended DePaul, is now based in Seoul where he performs, records and teaches. He’s been a backup musician for performers like Ulf Wakenius and Terence Blanchard. Gieles is another friend from college.
Jeon, the bassist, is one of the newer members. He was voted Best Bassist and Best Instrumentalist in 2000 by the Korean magazine Doobop. These musicans have performed internationally, with Varga and Jeon teaming up at the Rochester International Jazz Festival in upstate New York, headlined by Bobby McFerrin.
by Joe Yong-hee
For more information, visit the Web site www.ticketlink.co.kr or call (02) 888-0650, or (019) 9349-0650 for English.