Kevin Sun - Trio

Label: Endectomorph Music

Lineup – Kevin Sun: tenor and C-melody saxophones; Walter Stinson: acoustic bass; Matt Honor: drums.


Brooklyn-based saxophonist Kevin Sun, a graduate from Harvard College and New England Conservatory, has been playing in bands such as Earprint, Mute, and Great On Paper. In order to definitely cement his status as a bandleader, he assembled his own trio, featuring Walter Stinson on bass and Matt Honor on drums. The album Trio, released on the saxophonist’s label Endectomorph Music, allows him to explore textures and dynamics with freedom while merging the contemporary and the tradition in a tasteful way. 

Carrying harmonic fragments from Parker’s “Confirmation” and boasting an airy tone that resembles Lester Young, “Transaccidentation” starts off nice and easy with a dreamlike mannerism that includes lost-in-thought saxophone lines, steady drumming, and a bass pedal that soon disintegrates to pulsate with movement. The tune is played at a 15/8 tempo and brings a gravitational sense attached, even when the trio increases the robustness of their moves. Furthermore, we have intelligible, expressive, and not infrequently playful improvisations by the threesome.

Flying with avant-garde intricacy, “Three Ravens” is a hard-swinging slice of Steve Lacy-esque free-ish bop. Gorgeously displaying motivic phrases that go up and down within the main statement, Sun dives headfirst in a stirring improvisation until Honor grabs his way. After the re-establishment of the theme, the piece acquires an enthusiastic Latin pulse that I wished it would have run for a longer period of time.

The completely improvised “One Never Knows Now” booms with several horn timbres, humming arco playing, propulsive drum rolls, as well as percussive rattles and clangs. Deeply connected with this piece, “Does One Now Does One Now Does” is its logic continuation, showcasing Sun’s electrifying multiphonics and other extended techniques on top of well-anchored bass grooves. Yet, the trio awakes further tonal instincts within the dark chamber atmosphere of “Misanthrope”, where bowed bass abrasions combine with saxophone tonalities that brought Tony Malaby to mind. The energy steps up considerably whenever Honor is active.

Operating across a rock platform, “Find Your Pose” sounds close to Chris Speed Trio, while “Announcements” sparks with cymbal splashes and a frantic improvisational language that immediately takes us to Steve Lehman. They differ from “Bittergreen”, which, emerging as a reharmonization of “Sweet Georgia Brown”, flows with a velvety tone while finding plenty of room to breathe. The rendition of “All of Me”, melodically delineated by Sun’s C-melody saxophone, is the one that feels a bit out of context due to its more purist, swinging treatment.

I have no doubt that Sun’s musical integrity will bring him wide recognition. Trio proves him a high flyer whose presence is voluminous and a gifted saxophonist who feels comfortable in a variety of musical contexts. 

       Grade  A-

       Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
01 - Transaccidentation ► 03 - Three Ravens ► 05 - Does One Now Does One Now Does