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Jacob Sacks Back in Town


The very talented young pianist Jacob Sacks came back to Ann Arbor on April 9 for a concert with vocalist Yoon Sun Choi. It was a very inspiring evening of music with the first half taken up by this unique duo and the second half joined by saxophonist Andrew Bishop and bassist Tim Flood.

Sacks and Choi have recorded a CD, Soulmates, which was chosen by the Ottawa Citizen as one of the best albums of 2003. Choi is a Canadian by birth but, like Sacks, lives in New York City. They perform there as a duo and as part of a quintet called 4inObjects. The story was told that Choi heard Sacks in the city and pronounced, "There's my accompanist."

The two make music that is adventurous, yet accessible. They obviously are very close in their conceptions of what sounds they want to produce. One unusual feature of the concert was that they followed a printed program. Some of the songs involved more mainstream jazz singing, including scatted passages. At other times the two were closer to the atonal end of the scale and produced some stark and powerful sounds, e.g., on "Conehead." A different dimension was more pop oriented material, like "What The World Needs Now" by Bacharach, but most listeners probably did not recognize it unless they glanced in their programs. Some of Choi's own songs had a folk or country sensibility, e.g., "My Friend Joe" or "Coming Home."

Choi is a modern and very expressive singer with great stage presence. Sacks is an exceptional talent at the piano with a touch that is perfected by many years of playing, even though he is still a youngster by most standards. He is clearly developing his own style in New York and seemingly does not want to be just another young lion playing mainstream jazz. Ann Arbor can be proud to have provided him with a home for his early career outside of Monroe and we hold our breath for what is next on his horizon. We now know that his duo with Choi is one very worthwhile ongoing project.

Anyone for inviting 4inObjects to the area?

photographs by Lars Bjorn

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