Lauded pianist Helen Sung is an adroit improviser with a bent toward straight-ahead jazz and post-bop.
Arriving in New York in the early 2000s, Sung grew to wider fame as the winner of the 2007 Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition. Along with albums by Joe Chambers, Ronnie Cuber, and Terri Lyne Carrington, she has released her own highly regarded efforts including the 2006 trio date Helenistique and 2014's Anthem for a New Day with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen.
A native of Houston, Texas, Sung grew up the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants. From the age of nine, she studied classical piano and attended Houston's High School for the Performing Arts before earning both undergraduate and graduate degrees in classical piano from the University of Texas at Austin. It was during her time in college that Sung became interested in jazz, and after graduating in 1995 she enrolled in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, which was then at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music. Eventually, Sung relocated to New York City. She has performed with a bevy of name artists including trumpeter Clark Terry, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, trumpeter Jon Faddis, and many others, and performs regularly with the Mingus Big Band. On her own, she has released several albums, including 2004's Push, 2006's Helenistique, and 2007's Sungbird (After Albeniz), all of which showcase her sophisticated approach to acoustic jazz.
In 2010, she paired with saxophonist Seamus Blake, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, and drummer Eric Harland on Going Express. Her first quintet album, Anthem for a New Day, arrived in 2014, featuring trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, Blake, and others. In 2018, she collaborated with poet Dana Gioia on the jazz and spoken word album Sung with Words. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi