Album info



Label: ACT Music

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Vocal

Artist: Youn Sun Nah

Composer: Diverse

Album including Album cover


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  • 1Dancing With You04:46
  • 2The Linden05:02
  • 3Calypso Blues04:07
  • 4My Bye04:27
  • 5Jockey Full Of Bourbon03:43
  • 6Voyage06:02
  • 7Please, Don't Be Sad03:47
  • 8Shenandoah04:34
  • 9Come, Come03:32
  • 10Frevo05:19
  • 11Inner Prayer05:07
  • 12India Song05:00
  • Total Runtime55:26

Info for Voyage

In our time and age, a jazz singer from Korea may still seem like an exotic concept. But anyone who knows how much effort Asian countries invest in education and promotion also knows about the growing circle of jazz fans in the region. So with notable exceptions it’s astounding that there aren’t more artists from Korea or Japan whose names are on everyone’s lips. However, Youn Sun Nah could change all that, and as the first Korean artist exclusively under contract with ACT, anyone listening to her debut album Voyage (ACT 9019-2) will understand why.

Born in 1969 in Seoul, Youn Sun Nah comes from a family of musicians - her father is a conductor and her mother a classical singer. She made her debut in the field of music at the age of 23 but it was not until she turned 26 that she decided to make music her profession. This marked the beginning of a stylistic turning point for her: “I’d studied French literature and adored the French chanson, so I decided to go to France,” she says. “But after a while, I got the impression that you have to be French in order to sing chansons, so I concentrated on jazz.”

During her studies at the CIM in Paris (the oldest jazz school in Europe) and at the Boulanger Conservatory, Sun Nah had already formed her own quintet in an international setting together with some fellow students. They quickly gained a reputation and were invited to festivals all over France, before going on to record five well received albums in just six years. Youn Sun Nah rose like a comet in her home country. At the first annual Korean Music Awards in 2004, she was voted “Best Artist” in the Crossover category and a year later for “Best Up-and-Coming” young artist in Korea. The same year she also won the renowned “Grand Prix” at the Jazz à Juan Concours in France.

Her next step in 2007 would point the way forward. Youn Sun Nah recorded a pop album in Korea entitled Memory Lane. The CD was a bestseller in her home country and she also got the Danish pianist Niels Lan Doky to co-produce. He subsequently brought her to festivals in Denmark where she met the Swedish guitar virtuoso and ACT recording artist Ulf Wakenius. They got along so well that they decided to perform together in Korea and record a CD. Youn Sun Nah tells us, “Originally, it was going to be a duo CD with just the two of us, but Ulf was so busy that we needed a producer. Ulf suggested Lars Danielsson, whom I’d admired for a long time”. One thing led to another. Danielsson not only produced, but also played bass and brought in Norwegian trumpet player Mathias Eick. Eventually the French percussionist Xavier Desandre-Navarre from Lan Doky’s band joined the group.

The exquisite quartet displays a distinctly Nordic element on Voyage and was also a great inspiration for Youn Sun Nah. She recalls: “With the band in Paris, somehow it was always about experimenting. We were all quite new to the business when we started working. With Ulf, Lars, Mathias and Xavier, however, I felt relaxed and secure from the first moment on. You don’t need to prove anything to them and that’s why you are even more daring“. Her companions returned the compliment on the spot. “Her wonderful voice is full of feeling and emotion”, says Mathias Eick. Lars Danielsson praised, “her outstanding timing, which is something you don’t find very often with singers”. Xavier Desandre-Navarre summarises: “The tonal range of her voice is fantastic and she is very precise. Her voice has a great capacity and it’s crystal clear. She’s like sunshine.” It’s anything but an ordinary jazz voice; whether she’s scatting, singing classical or rapping, Youn Sun Nah combines mystical and artistic elements of Korean singing with the imagination and purity of the French chanson, together with the energy and freedom of jazz.

As Youn Sun Nah’s singing brings together various elements, the repertoire on the album concentrates on diverse predilections. There are six of her own compositions, ranging from melancholic ballads to intricate up-tempo tracks. We also find Egberto Gismonti’s “Frevo” as a showpiece for Wakenius, and Nat King Cole’s “Calypso Blues”, which was recommended to her warmly by a French friend. For years Youn Sun Nah has been a great fan of Tom Waits. “I always knew that one day I was gonna sing ‘Jockey full of Bourbon’. Now the time had come”. And what a wonderful contrast Youn Sun Nah’s ethereal version is to the smoky bass of Waits’ original.

Youn Sun Nah has personal memories that connect her with the American traditional Shenandoah: “This is a song from my childhood. My father conducted the Korean National Choir for four voices and had it in his repertoire, so it’s been with me for many years”.

Voyage is a journey into the past and at the same time a promise for the future. It’s an impressive signature of one of the most exceptional singers of our time.

Youn Sun Nah, vocals
Ulf Wakenius, guitar
Lars Danielsson, acoustic bass, cello, melodica
Xavier Desandre-Navarre, percussion
Mathias Eick, trumpet

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Lars Nilsson at Nilento Studios, Gothenburg, Sweden, June 2-4, 2008
Produced by Lars Danielsson
Executive Producer: Jae Jin In

Youn Sun Nah
(born on August 28, 1969 in Seoul/Korea) grew up in a musical family: her father was a conductor, her mother a classical singer. She made her musical debut as a singer at age 23 with a concert with the Korean Symphony Orchestra, and went on to perform in numerous Korean musicals on a national stage, for which she has received numerous awards.

However, she did not find that musical environment fulfilling. She decided to go to Paris in 1995 to study jazz and French chanson at the CIM school (one of the oldest jazz schools in Europe), at the National Music Institute of Beauvais, and at the Nadia and Lili Boulanger Conservatory. Her innate talent for jazz revealed itself when she started playing in Parisian jazz clubs with her group, the Youn Sun Nah 5tet. She made her rounds on the Paris club scene, performances that would earn her invitations to work with many famous musicians. Youn Sun Nah made strong showing in a number of jazz competitions like La Défense, St. Maur, and Montmartre. She became the buzzword in theatres and festivals all over France, while also performing in Korea, essentially managing simultaneous careers in two countries.

Producing five albums in six years, she held numerous performances in France, Europe, and in Asia including Korea. Such vigorous activity would earn her an award as “Best Artist” in the Crossover category in Korea in 2004. The same year, the release of So I Am... was widely celebrated by French audiences as well as the press, who regarded her as one of the most remarkable singers of this generation. Active touring and musical performances finally came to fruition in the form of the Grand Prize at the highly reputable Jazz à Juan Concours in 2005, in addition to the prize of Best Young Artist Of The Year in Korea. Youn Sun Nah established her position as a premiere jazz artist in the Asian music scene and marketplace with the album Memory Lane, co-produced with Denmark’s top pianist Niels Lan Doky and Korean bassist Kim Jeong-Ryul in 2007. She also earned recognition from the American media and noted personalities from around the world with an invitation and performance at the Jazz at Lincoln Center, which would launch her to world stardom.

She is an artist who never fails to move audiences wherever she may be performing, in Europe, USA, Australia, and Asia. In 2009 ACT has signed her as an exclusive artist. Together with world-famous Swedish artists like Ulf Wakenius and Lars Danielsson she recorded her newest album and ACT-debut, VOYAGE (ACT 9019-2), which will be released by ACT in May 2009.

This album contains no booklet.

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