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Yuhan Su - Liberated Gesture (Sunnyside)

17 November 2023

Featuring tunes written before and during the pandemic, Liberated Gesture presents vibraphonist Yuhan Su with an exceptional band of fellow travelers, including saxophonist Caroline Davis, pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Marty Kenny, and drummer Dan Weiss. Though the bandleader, Su – a veteran of interactive ensembles like the Anna Webber/Angela Morris Big Band and Amir ElSaffar’s Rivers of Sounds – doesn’t feature herself nearly as often as one might think, preferring to shift the spotlight to Davis and Mitchell. On the shimmering “Didion” (named after author Joan Didion), the funky “Hassan’s Fashion Magazine,” the thoughtful “She Goes To a Silent War,” or the energetic “Character,” Su sets up the song structure and uses her ax to maintain it, letting her bandmates add decorations and furniture. She does allow herself time on the pedestal for “Liberated Gesture II.Arc,” which is practically a vibes solo with tasteful accompaniment from her pals. But in the main Su uses Liberated Gesture as a showcase for her talents as a composer and bandleader more than as a player, and she scores big on both counts.