SE:UM
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SE:UM

Incheon, Incheon, South Korea | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | INDIE

Incheon, Incheon, South Korea | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2013
Band World Jazz

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"Korean Breath"

Bringing jazz and Korean traditions together, SE:UM have found the perfect recipe in their atmospheric show Korean Breath. Modestly done, the artistry of the instruments playing is astounding; from saxophone to traditional stringed instrument gayageum, these musicians know how to manipulate the audience's emotions.

Transitioning between the slow and peaceful thrum of the contrabass to the eruptive trumpet and drum is seamless, as is the emotional attachment to each song. The gayageum makes SE:UM's music stand out, for its harmonious rhythm merges perfectly with the jazz beats. Melodic trances induce imagery of walking through the corridors of the past to then be met around the corner by a battleground between trumpet and saxophone. It's genuinely exciting! Someone in the crowd gasped – and it was respectfully acknowledged with a nod from the saxophonist.

Not here to entertain with over-the-top solos or dance moves, SE:UM focus their attention equally between each musician. When an instrument is not being used in a song, the musician will calmly and respectfully walk off the stage, so as to allow full view and impact for the audience. There's no distraction from a sundry foot tapping or head nodding from the vacant-handed player, thus there is no influence of feeling or emotion from band to audience. All the emotions felt are raw and direct from the music.

Remember to take £10 along on the day to buy one of their CDs at the end. It was a big regret of mine not buying one: they're not that easy to find on the Internet and it would have been nice to share this fusion of music with friends. - Broadway Baby


"Korea Breath by SE:UM"

A cultural mix worth keeping! Who knew that traditional Korean music + free-form jazz = a great time? Korean band SE:UM will fuse 50 minutes (not long enough) of fantastically put together pieces and you will want more.

The 5-piece ensemble, sax – alto and soprano – trumpet, contrabass, Korean drums, and gayageum (a Korean stringed instrument) somehow manages to marry free-form jazz with perfect musical togetherness and precision – not an easy task. Furthermore, the show is musically sophisticated and very easy listening. The drummer gets into it. He definitely does. He also has a vocal part; a pleasant surprise. He’s great. So they all are.

The gayageum adds the perfect amount of new, exotic sounds to ensure that the audience are intrigued, wooed, but not confused by the addition to what are mainly bluesy-jazzy sounds. In fact the player, Joon Lee, manages to find an impressive number of blues notes on an instrument prone to microtones – something we’ve totally cut out of western music, for some reason. The two lead melodies come from the saxophonist, whose solo at the end may be the highlight of the show – if you love free-form chaos – and the trumpet, the piercing notes of which will please, as they should. The bassist does all the talking, perhaps because he knows the most English or perhaps because he is the anchor whilst the soloing runs off, although SE:UM appear far too tight to really need a guiding light.

Sadly the venue is only at half capacity. This group certainly deserve more, partly due to their immense talent and creativity, and partly to cover the unthinkable airfares for themselves and their instruments. Also their production team, where is their praise for making the hike? Was the composer present? The musicians don’t tell us who wrote the pieces; whoever they are, they deserve huge commendation because the pieces were complex, beautiful and thoroughly entertaining – especially the final piece. The only criticism one can propose is the charge of £10.50 for 50 minutes. However, we shall forgive them this due to the aforementioned costs, although we do feel this may deter potential audiences. SO ACT, and go see SE:UM, you will love it.

Calum Grewar

The run is now ended. - Fresh Air


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