I didn’t know that Soojin Suh was the drummer and composer when I started listening to Colorist. I thought she was the composer and the pianist. As a former drummer, this gave me a new appreciation for the album. My experience with jazz is limited and I can only speak to how I engaged with the music.
In short, I think Colorist is an amazing album, inside or outside of jazz. The composition and arrangement of the songs isn’t what I expected and usually instrumental albums quickly fade into the background. But Soojin’s arrangement use more than just a “familiar” and “mainstream” jazz band-type presentation and really manipulate the notes, rhythms, and verses of each song. Like I mentioned before, I don’t really know jazz – old or contemporary – and found the album on Bandcamp before locating it on Spotify.
What you get on Colorist is a conversation between time and melody. Even though a track might use a time signature, it’s not limited or stuck by it. Young Hoo Kim on bass and Jaehun Kang on piano are given a lot of room to make their own signature within the space. The drums act as a time meter, but also spend a lot of time creating its own melody through rhythm and usage of the different cymbal strikes and snare manipulations.
Colorist uses jazz as an entry point, but the album is much more experimental. The nine songs have a soundtrack feel. They can present frantic movements with a precise presentation or create imagery of an empty room with minimal movement. I think it’s definitely an album that requires attention to every single beat. The order of the album feels a little random on purpose to constantly keep you on your toes.
While the front of the album is more noticable experimental, the back end of Colorist is a bit more recognizable for the genre. The recording and mix of the album is excellent because every instrument kind of flows up and down as needed rather than keep distinct levels. Every musician manipulates their instrument with a lot of precision and knows how to make the biggest impact without relying on volume.
I knew that all music genres were being performed in South Korea, it was going to be the challenge of finding them. Soojin Suh’s Colorist is definitely an interesting album for jazz fans or music enthusiasts in general. I highly recommend giving this album a listen because it’s going to open your mind.