JANYA Modern Korean Music
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JANYA Modern Korean Music

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band World New Age


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"World: Janya Build on Traditional Korean Shamanic Music A compositional meeting of ancient themes and modern expression"

Formed in early 2011, Janya are a four piece world music group, three of the four members (the instrumentalists in the group) coming from Korea. The singer, Lola Danza, who has a free and composed jazz and classical background in New York, is American and has a Korean mother. United by origin as well as a desire to project classically-flavored world music, Janya are a very bright flower in the relative undergrowth of current popular and inventive music. In the group, Danza is accompanied by Seungmin Cha on daegeum (Korean transverse bamboo flute), Eun Sun Jung, gayageum (the multi-stringed "Korean piano", really a zither or harp) and Woonjung Sim, janggo (drums).

Powered by Danza's classically-arched compositions, and buoyed by the mini orchestral textures of the wide-open Korean instrumentation, Janya has already recorded a rich album entitled "Janya" (Evolver Records, 2011). In May, 2011, the group also performed a highly successful concert on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

Janya have strong roots in traditional Korean music and, as shown by their album, Western music such as that of Stravinsky. Through Danza, there is also the broader thread of rock music and blues. Her vocals cover a colorful range of influences from jazz-blues singers to maybe even Robert Plant! Overall, however, the impact is of music drama in the operatic sense, a kind of "Porgy and Bess" meets Claudio Monteverdi, or a blend of blues and other expression on Eastern landscapes. Instrumentally, Danza herself is a multi-octave wide improvisor with experience experimenting with such famous figures as Ornette Coleman, and her voice traverses many moods over the intriguing instrumental accompaniments.

Mood is an important aspect of Janya's music, as, in each piece, Danza sets out an exposition, develops a topic, then provides the answer all in a theatrical whole.

Given the traditional instrumentation, it is not surprising that the musicians and music exhibit a firm classical sensibility. In the through-composed music, both singer/composer and instruments are always exploring, sometimes with each-other, perhaps sometimes against each-other, but always arriving at a thoroughly aesthetic destination.

Janya describe their music as "modern Korean shamanic music". Korea has, in some parts, a history of shamanic ritual, and there is music that accompanies this--usually the music is percussive beats and flute, with vocal chanting. Janya has placed this music in a compositional context through Danza's music and lyrics, and music written by the group as a whole. That is, Janya have added songs to the general texture of the shamanic music, and opened up the texture by reducing the usual traditional Korean reliance on constant bells and beat. In other words, they could be said to have brought song-writing to the music, music that is usually by design there to serve a ritual.

The excellent result is music for the stage or the concert hall, hence the title "modern" Korean shamanic music.

Danza's compositions suit the traditional shamanic musical textures very well. The story-telling and bluesy vocal breaks are a dramatic and visionary way to open out this music. The lyrical subject matter of the music is powerful, and the sound world employed is ideal for it.

The strong theatrical side to the music was shown at the group's concert at the Kennedy Center, which also included visual theatrical elements such as Danza spreading petals about the stage as Cha sang (taking a break from the daegeum), telling the story in the lyrics. Danza's singing was also frequently accompanied by her acting.

It may be surprising for some to learn that the group only formed in March, 2011. Janya have already made quite an impact, the chemistry between the members being evident from the first notes of both the concert and the album.

The theater-musik element makes an immediate appearance on the album "Janya". The first track "Epilogu - JAZZTIMES


JANYA-- JANYA 2011 Evolver Records




Lola Danza's mother is Korean, Lola was born in the U.S. Ms. Danza has a Bachelors degree from Berklee College of Music and a Master’s degree from Aaron Copland School of Music. Ms. Danza has toured all over the world with her own musical projects. She has played with legendary musicians: Ornette Coleman, Steve Kuhn, Lewis Nash, Bob Moses, John Lockwood, Ben Monder, Mat Maneri, Dave Tronzo, Bob Gullotti, Luciana Souza and Leni Stern to name a few.

Eunsun Jung, a Gayageum player, graduated from National School of Korean Traditional Music and earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Seoul National University. She actively performs worldwide, countries include: France, Belgium, Germany, America,
Japan, etc.

Woonjung Sim is a percussionist working on her Master’s degree at Seoul National University and is a team member of 'Gong' which plays musikdrama. She plays not only traditional music but also theater music and contemporary music. She has a wide musical range and incredible
performance skills.

Emerging as one of the most influential experimental daegeum(transverse bamboo flute) artists, Seungmin Cha was trained in traditional music and its discourse. A graduate of the School of Music at Seoul National University, Ms. Cha has developed her career as a solo daegeum artist, as well as a composer and an illustrator.

Janya has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and all over NYC and the USA.