3 1/2 STARS
Pianist Jihee Heo has a beautiful legato touch that builds on sturdy lyricism and lustrous harmonies—but her work also is filled with delicate, detailed figures. That alone would be enough to carry a recording, but the fine Are You Ready? reinforces it with two more extraordinary elements. First, her compositional voice—she wrote all eight of the album's tracks. And second, a remarkably tight and interactive trio with bassist Marty Kenney and
drummer Rodney Green.
Heo's composing, of course, is an extension of her playing. Yet, it also proffers another layer of intrigue. On the ballad "Dark And Light," that intrigue takes the form of a beguiling chord sequence that's as surprising and suspenseful as a good improvisation. "Blurring The Blues," the album's second and best track, finds Heo taking a strident cooker of a solo. Throughout, Green and Kenney seem to anticipate her every move, whether it's Green getting ahead of a quick eighth-note salvo or Kenney intuiting a chord substitution she's about to play. Yet, as if to prove her self-possession, the pianist closes the album with the unaccompanied "Letter To A Little Girl"—at least as powerful and moving as anything else on Are You Ready?