Iron Starlet / Connie Han
Label: MACK AVENUE
With the release of her 2018 Mack Avenue Music Group debut, Crime Zone, pianist/keyboardist Connie Han seized the attention of the jazz world and firmly established herself as a fast-rising star on the scene. That stratospheric ascent continues on her captivating follow-up, Iron Starlet. As the title makes vividly clear, Han’s career may be in the early stages of what promises to be a vertiginous climb, but the 23-year old is no wide-eyed aspirant, timidly searching for her place in the crowded jazz landscape. One listen to Iron Starlet is ample evidence that she’s every bit an armor-clad talent as the name implies. Her powerful vision takes in the full evolution of her forebearers, from iconic innovators like McCoy Tyner and Hank Jones through the Young Lion revolution spearheaded by the Marsalis Brothers, Kenny Kirkland and Jeff “Tain” Watts, among others. “The intention of this music is to continue a legacy of tough, primal, raw but still intellectually engaging straight-ahead jazz,” Han declares. “I am an aspiring star in this music, but I am not a naïve, uncertain girl that people wrongly associate with that term.” The toughness at the core of Iron Starlet is rooted in its rhythmic drive, anchored by the trio of Han, bassist Ivan Taylor and drummer/producer Bill Wysaske. They’re joined by the stellar frontline of saxophonist Walter Smith III (returning from Crime Zone) and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, an ideal pairing to realize the compelling blend of sophistication and grit that Han imbues into every piece.