Review

2022 In Review: Day 10 – Jazz and Blues

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2022 In Review

1. Introduction + Best Album Art
2. Song of the Year
3. Album of the Year
4. R&B and Soul
5. Rock and Alternative
6. Rap and Hip-hop
7. Dance and Electronic
8. Pop and Ballad
9. Folk and Country
10. Jazz and Blues
11. Crossover and World
12. Best Collaborative Work
13. Rookie Artist of the Year
14. Artist of the Year
15. Other Recognition
16. Concluding Remarks

Like the pop genre, the jazz scene also benefited from plenty of not-quite-crossover-level cross-polination in 2022. Influences in both sound and thought came from medieval art, Panamanian jazz, improv in Helsinki, the academic discipline of history-of-thought, and more, resulting in a rich and explorative slate of work.

Notes:

  • The “Next 10” and honorable mention lists are sorted by artist name.
  • The 2022 Jazz and Blues Spotify playlist is here and also embedded below:


Albums

Best Jazz and Blues Album 2022

Son Moeun Project – Intérieurs

Violinist Son Moeun’s first full-length takes turns between the serene and the frenetic, and it’s credit to Intérieurs that it’s genuinely difficult to say which side is better. Certainly the dreamy compositions like “Opening” and “Interlude” charm with their water-smooth legato and gently rolling, richly layered melodies. But the controlled, escalating chaos of “Daybreak” and the intrigue of booming chords and coy pizzicato in “Dok-Bek” are more assertive and have their share of crystalline beauty. Dexter Goldberg’s piano play is quietly a star, pinning down the tracks with just enough flash while matching Son’s violin in pace and energy.

The Runner-up

Youn Sun Nah – Waking World

29 years into her career, there is little more to be written about the country’s premier jazz vocalist. But Waking World does come with changes for Youn Sun Nah: there are no standards or covers here, only eleven self-written tracks, and they lean deeply into the forlornness of Nah’s soundscape. The aggressive writing (“Don’t Get Me Wrong”), sere acoustics, and mournful rhythm of Waking World pound relentlessly on the listener; relief comes not from lighter moods, but instead the album’s fascinating dips into electronica. But all this sound, seemingly by arrangement and mixing alike, ultimately cedes way to the clarity of Nah’s voice, spreading resonance with every note that lands.

The Next 10

Cho Yoonseung – 노르딕 챈트 (Nordic Chant)

Eunjeong Hwang – 나르사 (Narsha)

Hoo Kim Big Band – 범인류적 유산 (Common Heritage of Humankind)

Kim Oki – 안부 (Greeting)

Song Young-joo – Atmosphere

Soojung Lee & Jaehun Kang – Stellive Vol. 56 | Duology: Live at Stellive

Sunji Lee, Kyumin Shim, Eunhye Oh, Eunyoung Kim, Jaehun Kang – Canon

Suwon Yim – Escape from the Underplay

Taesung Yu – 미켈란젤로 (Michelangelo)

Woongsan – Who Stole the Skies


Songs

Best Jazz and Blues Song 2022

Eunjeong Hwang – 나르샤 (Narsha)
Composed and arranged by Eunjeong Hwang

The frenetic staccato and complex drumming that kick off “Narsha” are but a herald of the rhythmic treat that this track evolves into. Eunjeong “EJ” Hwang’s piano sketches out a breakneck melody that you soon realize is steeped in Korean-traditional (if it wasn’t clear from the title), and by the time the heritage of that melody is revealed, one notices a full-on samulnori band has entered with that uniquely energetic clamor as to remove all doubt. While not a full-on crossover work in my mind – the track still seems dominated by Western harmonics – “Narsha” is still one of the most tasteful incorporations of nongak music in jazz that I’ve seen.

The Runner-up

Epilogue Project – Epilogue
Composed and arranged by Epilogue Project

This piece of contemporary jazz-rock is by-the-book in its build-up, starting off with a piano motif that brims with intrigue and quickly introducing the cast that will help carry it higher. The central melody grows firmer as instruments join in and reinforce its notes. Then it’s like a spotlight turning on when Kwak Jeong-young’s synths turn up; like electricity sparking when Cho Hyung-gu’s guitar rips through the air. At its full richness towards the end, never losing sight of that hardy and defiant piano, “Epilogue” is the sound of night, of lights.

The Next 10

Ji Young Lee – Inspired Enough?

Jieut – Unknown

Jinju Yi – Difference (with Park Chan Young)

Shin Hyunpill & Ko Heean – Heima

Sihyung Hong Quartet – April to June

Son Moeun Project – Daybreak

Taesung Yu – Pieta

Yong Lee – Surface of Time, Part I (Limitation)

Youn Sun Nah – Waking World

Youra & Mandong – 시간을 아우르는 공 (Vacancy Hugs Time)


Honorable Mentions

Albums

Dirty Blend – Rendez-Vous
Epilogue Project – Epilogue
Hanseong Kang – Go for Launch
Horim – Winter to Spring
Hyuya – Hyuya Dreams
Ji Young Lee – New Trio
Jieut – 변박者 (Irregular People)
JisuByeol – Fantasy: 파랑 (Blue)
Kim Choong Hoy Quartet – Never Fading Love
Myung Hoon Sa – In the Morning
Park Si Yeon Trio – 시 (Si)
Sang Ouk Jung & The Alumnation – 이방인의 춤 (Outlander’s Dance Song)
Shin Hyunpill & Ko Heean – Iceland
Song Hachul – Be Yourself
Song Hachul – Emotional Highs and Lows
Tal – Dropping Point
Yechan Kim – Nature
Yeon Han-sol – Ydentity
Yong Lee – Surface of Time
Yongsun Hyun – This Moment
Yoonchan Kwak – Olivet
Youra & Mandong – 이런 분위기는 기회다 (The Vibe Is a Chance)
Yun Seokcheol Trio – 익숙하고 일정한 (Familiar and Constant)

Songs

A-Fuzz & Kio Jang Ki-ho – Salty
Corong Corong Pirates – 항해 (Sailing)
Epilogue Project – 회상 (Reminiscence)
Gyeongseop Kim – Chill (with. Ark)
Hae In Cho – Waters
Hanseong Kang – Go for Launch
Hanseong Kang – Tunnel
Hoo Kim Big Band – 범인류적 유산 (Common Heritage of Humankind) Suite: IV. New Discoveries
Hyuya – Nightmare
JisuByeol – Right Now!
JisuByeol – Trip
Kim Oki – 그 사이로 (Between) (Feat. Daye)
Kim Shinyoung – Green
Kim Shinyoung – Wish
Luca Minor – Your Universe
Min Ah Young – Waiting
Moon Youngjin – Etude No. YJ
Moontrio – 부서지기 쉬운 (Fragile)
Myung Hoon Sa – Morning
Nara Shin – Paragliding
Park Si Yeon Trio – 파도(Breaker)
Q the Trumpet – Key Board
Robiq – Holy Ground
Sang Ouk Jung & The Alumnation – Outlander’s Dance Song
Son Moeun Project – Opening
Son Moeun Project – Overshadow
Son Moeun Project – See-Saw
Son Moeun Project – 독백 (Dok-Bek)
Song Eun-chae – 가만히 있을래 (Stay)
Song Hachul – Be Yourself
Song Young-joo – Atmosphere
Soul Delivery – The Last Day
Sung Kwang-hyun – Love Me Loud
Suwon Yim – Burden
Suwon Yim – Escape from the Underplay
Woongsan – I’m Not a Butterfly
Ye Eun Park – Patagonia (Song for the Puma)
Yechan Kim – Sunset
Yong Lee – Surface of TIme, Part III (Eternality)
Yongsun Hyun – Let’s Move On
Yoonchan Kwak – Light Year
Yoonchan Kwak – Olivet
Youn Sun Nah – Bird on the Ground
Youn Sun Nah – Don’t Get Me Wrong
Youn Sun Nah – Lost Vegas
Youra & Mandong – 지느러미 (The Fin)
Yuna Jun – This Is How the Story Ends


Lyric translations by author. Artist profile and album cover images from Bugs Music.

Read our past series:

2021 In Review

2020 In Review

2019 In Review

2018 In Review

2017 In Review

2016 In Review

2015 In Review

2014 In Review

2013 In Review

2012 In Review

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