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Jazz Introducing the CJ Contemporary Music Week

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A Week of Exalted Emotion with Jazz Introducing the CJ Contemporary Music Week

We are now in winter, the perfect season to soak in the charm of jazz music. In cold weather, the rhythms of jazz tend to give off warm feelings. I had a week of exalted emotion last week during the CJ Contemporary Music Week, where I saw jazz musicians play music at several Hongdae clubs, including CJ Azit Gwangheungchang, Veloso, and Club Evans. Today, I'm going to share a look back at a particular concert of the CJ contemporary Music Week held at CJ Azit Gwangheungchang on December 10.

CJ Contemporary Music Week is a music festival participated in by CJ Pop Music Scholarship students and Korea's best jazz musicians. The festival was held for a week in December at CJ Azit Gwangheungchang, Veloso, and Club Evans. Each day of the festival featured a line-up of different musicians, presenting jazz lovers with a moments of true joy.

The festival's December 10th line-up featured the Song Young-Joo Trio and JSFA, who performed at CJ Azit Gwangheungchang. Consisting of New York's beloved jazz pianist Song Young-Joo, a drummer, and a bassist and known for their emotion-packed performances, the trio blew the audience away. Stylish jazz band JSFA also stimulated the audience's wonder with their unique funky jazz sound designed to free the minds of the audience. Despite the cold weather, many music lovers gathered at CJ Azit Gwangheungchang, in which beautiful jazz music was being cranked out in the spirit of closing out the year and ushering in the new one.

The Song Young-Joo Trio Brings New York Jazz to Korea

Jazz pianist Song Young-Joo thanked the fans who came out to watch her band perform. As expected, she and her bandmates put out an excellent performance at the CJ Contemporary Music Week's first concert. She shined even more brightly on stage when performing her last set. Together with bassist Hwang Ho-Kyu and drummer Steve Pruitt, the trio staged a flawless performance.

They played their own compositions, including their first song "In the Distance," which was followed by "East River". The harmonious combination of drums, bass, and piano took the stage, immersing the audience in the music. The charming jazz music played on a winter night cast a spell over the audience. Introducing themselves as an opening band, the trio didn't forget to introduce the band playing next. They gave a brilliant ending to the first leg of the CJ Contemporary Music Week.

The Charm of JSFA's Funky Jazz

The second band to appear on stage was JSFA. JSFA stands for Jazz Snobs Funk Addicts. The band truly captured the imagination of the audience with their funky jazz. JSFA's current members included jazz pianist Lee Ji-Young, drummer Kim Seung-Ho, trumpeter Cho Jung-Hyun, and saxophonist Lee Dong-Wook. On top of them, guitarist Jo Yeong-Deok and bassist Choi In-Seong also joined the band for the occasion.

The first song JSFA played was "That Thing", which is included on JSFA's second full-length album. The joyful melodies from the trumpet and saxophone blended with the bass, guitar and piano, highlighting the charm of JSFA's music. The song following that was JSFA's hit song "Four Jackets". Combining jazz and funk elements, the song was punctuated with rollicking rhythms to make the minds of the audience drift away. The cheers from the audience imbued me with a sense of freedom, making me feel as if I was at a jazz club in New York.

Jams by CJ Pop Music Scholarship Students

Lastly, I watched the performances by three teams comprised of CJ Pop Music Scholarship students. The first to perform was a duo of pianist Shim Gyu-Min and bassist Kim Young-Hu who played jam-type music in a straightforward manner. They said a word of gratitude for having them on the prestigious stage of the festival which was held for a week.

The second band featured pianist Choi Yun-Hwa, saxophonist Lee Seung-Won, and drummer Lee Sung-Gu, and they put on an excellent jazz performance. They said that it was an honor to wrap up the last leg of the festival through the performances by CJ Pop Music Scholarship student bands after a week of awesome concerts. It was an occasion where the charm of jazz music was fully conveyed to the audience.

The last concert was performed by a band consisting of pianist Han Yu-Rang, flutist Lee Gyu-Jae, bassist Jang Seung-Ho, and drummer Park Jong-Seon. They gave a word of thanks to the audience for watching the bands play to the end. It’s impossible to not want to cheer for CJ Pop Music Scholarship students who give it their all.

Since 2011, CJ Culture Foundation has been running the CJ Pop Music Scholarship Program for Korean pop music majors studying at leading music colleges throughout the world, including Berklee College of Music, Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and NEC. CJ Culture Foundation has supported as many as 150 students so far. The foundation offers a variety of opportunities for those students to grow into world-class musicians representing Korea. CJ Contemporary Music Week serves as one of those opportunities, and the festival made our ears delighted for a week in December. Here's hoping that the festival will return with an even better form next year and the year after next.