Jazz impresario aims to woo French fans

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Jazz impresario aims to woo French fans

Jazz may be lumped into the “easy listening” genre, but there’s nothing easy about Nah Youn-sun’s music. Many critics aren’t even sure it’s jazz.
The lead vocalist of the Nah Youn-sun Quartet admits that her take on music leans toward the experimental and defiant. It’s also wildly popular. Reviewers of the Nah Youn-sun Quintet typically say the same thing: It’s difficult to define their music, but the music is creative.
Nah has also taken her band on the road, playing in France, Australia and recently completing an Asian tour.
“My music is not fun,” Nah said. “I was afraid that there would be few people in the audience, but I was surprised to find that I was better received than I had expected.”
She has held concerts or performed in music festivals in nine cities in Australia, including Melbourne and Sydney, and also toured three cities in China ― Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou ― in addition to performances in Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Her first eight concerts in Australia sold out, as did her concert at the LG Arts Center on May 14, when the quintet’s original members were present in the show: David Georgelet (drum), Yoni Zelnik (contrabass), David Neerman (vibraphone) and Benjamin Moussay (piano).
Some critics attributed Nah’s popularity to her personal appeal or musical talent, despite the challenging nature of her pieces.
The last tour was so successful that there is already talk of going on another swing through Australia.
The quintet was also able to command crowds in China. Before one performance at a club in China, a local promoter warned her that the audience feedback might be tougher than what she was used to. In the beginning, everyone kept talking and drinking, but after 10 minutes the audience grew quiet, leaned forward and began to focus on the music.
“Jazz concerts don’t draw as many people as pop music does, but there were still many people who want to hear jazz,” Nah said. “It occurred to me that other jazz musicians could try their luck overseas.”
For now, she plans to perform in France for the next three months. “There are a good amount of supporters of musicians in France and I don’t need to worry about ticket sales. [The French] are ready to accept new things presented to them and I can experiment with my music as much as I want to,” Ms. Nah said.
She plans to come back to Korea and produce albums after further experimenting with new musical styles. What’s next? She wants to try playing more mainstream music.
“My friends and relatives have asked me to do music that we can understand and easily follow. If it can be something of a gift for them, it might be worth trying,” Nah said. “Though in the end they might wonder how mainstream my music really is.”

by Lee Kyong-hee
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