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Gig review: Park Jiha at King’s Place

Park Jiha playing yanggeum (photo: KCCUK)

Park Jiha brought the 2017 K-music festival to a close at King’s Place on 25 October with a mellow set of pieces taken from her album Communion which was deservedly shortlisted for the 2016 Korea Music Awards in both the Best Crossover Album and Best Jazz & Crossover Performance categories.

Park is a versatile player, her instruments including the taepyeongso (shawm), piri (double-reed bamboo flute), the rather exotic-looking saenghwang (mouth-blown pipe organ) and the yanggeum (hammered dulcimer). In one of the numbers she also provided vocals.

She is backed by a talented trio of musicians: New Zealander John Bell on vibes, Kang Tekhyun on bass and the amazingly dreadlocked Kim Oki on saxes / bass clarinet. All the compositions are Park’s own.

The instruments weaved their own special magic in the hall, aided by atmospheric lighting and the occasional puff from a smoke machine. This is not music to get pulses racing or feet stomping: it is music that surrounds you in a cocoon of warm and ethereal sounds that will send you home content and at peace. Sometimes you are unsettled: the taepyeongso gives you a wake-up call rather than soothing you; and the unusual combination of instruments will keep your brain constantly stimulated and entranced. In fact, at the end of the concert it almost feels like you have been at a church service, so perhaps the album title – Communion –  is rather appropriate. A perfect counterpoint to the sometimes explosively energetic rhythms that accompanied Ahn Eun-me’s production at Dance Umbrella the same night.

L to R: Kim Oki, Park Jiha, John Bell and Kang Tekhyun (photo: KCCUK)

Park Jiha performed at King’s Place on 25 October 2017 as the final concert of the 2017 K-music festival. All photos are courtesy of the KCCUK.

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