Jazz pianist and composer Helen Sung's Sung with Words
Using jazz and poetry as powerful catalysts to create new music, Sung With Words is a multi-movement work and pianist/composer Helen Sung's first program of all original compositions using the poems of celebrated poet Dana Gioia as lyrics. Written collaboratively, Sung With Words presents a modern sensibility exploring themes of the human condition - love, betrayal, wonder, melancholy, mystery - bringing together the musical and literary worlds in a thrilling experience.
In addition to setting Gioia's words to music, Sung looks deeper into how words and music connect thru her Lament for Kalief Browder and Convergence, instrumental compositions inspired by words. Made possible by a Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation New Jazz Works grant, Sung With Words will be Sung's 7th leader release.
Amongst Dana Gioia's poems for Sung With Words are these works published by the Virginia Quarterly Review. Steeped in the sounds, rhythms, and flair of New York City, Gioia's evocative words inspired Helen to tirelessly search for that "perfect melody".
Sung With Words was featured at the 2017 Bryant Park IN/TER\SECT Summer Music Festival, a 2-day event co-produced and curated in partnership with Chamber Music America. Click on the images below for some fan-generated videos of the performance, as well as Helen in a brief post-set onstage interview about the project.
The album features an all-star ensemble enlisting Sung’s long time collaborators multi-reedist John Ellis, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Reuben Rogers, drummer Kendrick Scott, and percussionist Samuel Torres taking the listener on a musical journey where vocalists Jean Baylor, Carolyn Leonhart, Christie Dashiell, and Charenee Wade bring the words of Sung With Words to life with their vivid interpretations. Sung With Words can be toured with as few as five musicians.
Introducing Sung with Words
Wardrobe by Vivienne Tam.