There’s just no limit

Or is there? A few days ago I was browsing Joanna Wang’s channel in YouTube, for some NewTokyoTerror feed. I then strolled over to her Facebook page and stumbled upon one of the most bizarre yet fascinating series of clips I’ve seen in a long time. It turned out to be a South-Korean bassist, Hyunmo Kim. And he’s one heck of a bass player! The dressing up however is a main ingredient causing some hiccups at first, but once you’ve gotten used to his appearance and have watched him as a guy who seems to really be in touch with his female side, these clips are rated funny and hilarious next to simply brilliant.

A little more research offered yet another surprise, The Oriental Express, a Korean fusion band, or as is listed on their website, No. 1 Korean Fusion Band. Hyunmo Kim’s the bassist in this band, where traditional and classical Korean music is combined with jazz. This is what one can find described on the website:

Oriental Express is a new breed of fusion music group blending various genres including Korean classical music, jazz and music technology. Oriental Express was formed on 2004 with Youngjun Choi (Prof. of Seoul Institute of the Arts), drummer Hyounjong Kim (Prof. of Yeoju Institute of Technology), bass player Hyunmo Kim as main members. Choi is the leader of the group, responsible for composing and playing the keyboard. As gayageum player Kyungso Park , and haegeum player Jiyoon Chun joined on 2005, the current lineup of the group has been established.

With 3 albums out, including 2006’s first debut album ‘To The West’, 2007’s second album ‘Cruising Together’, and 2008’s third album of ‘Vision of the Road’, Oriental Express has pursued of an extraordinary and broadened genre of their own, trying to incorporate various rhythmical beats such as jazz, rock, latin, funk, disco, and even electric sound into Korean-style melodies. They’ve not only made great endeavors in delivering great performances but also in the development of software and hardware needed for the performance. They have been developing electric haegeum, electric gayageum, i-jangju, and now are expanding to include the Korean classical software synthesizer. In addition, various sensors and interactive real-time video software are under development, too.

The music of Oriental Express harmonized with Korean classical instruments and western-style modern music instruments cannot be simply condensed into a sentence definition in a way that ‘It is Korean traditional music.’ or ‘This is jazz.’ It can be defined only as Oriental Express Music. This is a new breed of sound created by the harmonious spirit of each players.

As I am writing this, the Amsterdam cafe where I am since about 14.30 this afternoon, is suddenly loaded with people. A lot of people. It’s quite annoying actually, but who am I to comment, they’re guests here just like I am. Liz Wright (her album Salt) is filling my ears via the earphones, as people discuss the images placed against the walls of this place. An artsy crowd, yes. Even the children.

Anyway, more to come in the following days, as I am here in Amsterdam for the Dutch Jazz & World Meeting 2010. Seminars, workshops, showcases. Musica, musica. And meeting up with John Kelman (All About Jazz) for the first time … to be continued!