Korean pop remixed as jazz for the 7080 generation

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Korean pop remixed as jazz for the 7080 generation

In Korea, the word “7080” identifies those who lived their tender, eventful 20s or 30s in the 1970s and ’80s.

That is why companies seeking to capitalize on the pop culture of the era tag their endeavors with the “7080” marker. And chances are they will grab the attention of the so-called 7080 generation, triggering nostalgia for this dark and tumultuous period in Korea’s modern history.

Ronn Branton, an American jazz musician, did not live through this era in Korea. However, the songs of the period have served as the motif of his works for some time now. Branton has been rearranging Korean songs, mostly old pop tunes and children’s songs, as jazz since 2001, to introduce Koreans to the genre. On Sunday, he will present a concert of his work.

“Branton has been turning Korean songs into jazz for a while, but the upcoming concert will be the first one in which he presents songs from the ’70s and ’80s,” said Kim Chang-won, the organizer.

The fact that he is married to a Korean woman and has lived here for 11 years has certainly given him a better understanding of the “Korean sentiment.” Branton also meets with musicians and composers of the era, going mountain climbing and drinking makgeolli (Korean rice wine) with them to get to know them better.

The musicians - the subjects of Branton’s study - include some of the biggest names on the Korean music circuit such as Jo Yong-pil, Yang Hee-eun and Song Chang-sik. And their songs, including “Bobbed-hair,” “Morning Dew” and “Firefly,” have become, in a way, symbolic of the era.

Whether this American jazz musician’s take on the songs and the period will appeal to the audience will be put to the test this weekend.



Ronn Branton’s Jazz7080 concert will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets start at 50,000 ($42). For reservations, call 1588-7890 or visit www.ticketlink.co.kr.


By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

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