Bassist Hwansu Kang will present a collection of all original compositions at The Jazz Gallery this week. The overarching theme is “We go forward,” which has become something of a mantra for Kang. A graduate of The New School and a masters student at the Manhattan School of Music, Kang uses music to emphasize how he and his peers have collectively been discovering the beauty of a tradition of “music that never stays same.”
For his show at the Gallery, Kang is presenting a quintet featuring New York-based colleagues—Brandon Woody on trumpet, Abdulrahaman “Rocky” Amer on trombone, Guy Moskovich on piano, and JK Kim on drums. Speaking by phone, Kang dove into a few of his compositions, and shared his artistic vision for the upcoming generation of young musicians.
TJG: You graduate from school next year, correct?
Hwansu Kang: This will be my last year, yes. I graduated from the New School last year, and I’m at Manhattan School of Music right now for my masters, so I have one more year to go. It’s really good, things just got started again this week. Stefon Harris is the chair right now, and he’s bringing great artists through school. Buster Williams, Kendrick Scott, lots of amazing people.
TJG: You assembled an interesting quintet for this show at The Jazz Gallery. Could you tell me a little about some of the people you’ll be playing with?
HK: JK Kim is my best friend. I met him in New York about two years ago. When I first played him, he was the drummer I always dreamed of, the one I’d always wanted to play with. We speak the same language, we’re from the same country, and we understand each other musically. In a short amount of time, we grew up together as musical partners. He always brings more than I expect. I also met Brandon, the trumpeter, at MSM, where we put a combo ensemble together. He’s got a great thing going. He speaks through the trumpet. His language is so unique, his voice is so fresh to me.
We met Rocky, our trombone player, through the same MSM ensemble. He can literally speak anything through his instrument. He knows how to control it, how to make any sound, how to express himself. And Guy Moskovich, I’ve probably known him for a couple of years, but had never played with him until last year. I brought him in to play a tune of mine once, and he played exactly how I wanted it to be played: I didn’t explain anything, we didn’t really talk, we just started playing, and he just got it. We’re all from the same generation, and I believe we understand certain things that we don’t have to talk about. I trust and appreciate every one of these musicians in the band, and they respect me as a composer and bassist.
TJG: What will you be playing?
HK: It’s going to be all my originals. Almost everything has been written while at MSM, and the music has just come out of me. I’m going to playing some of these tunes for the first time in this show, and I’m really looking forward to it.