Korean-born singer Yeahwon Shin’s performance at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this Friday is doubly appropriate. Most obviously, it ties in with the museum’s current marquee exhibition, “Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910.” But coming just a couple of weeks prior to Mother’s Day, it’s also an early celebration; Shin’s latest CD, Lua Ya (ECM) was inspired by her newborn daughter and is dedicated “to mothers and children everywhere.”
Lua Ya consists of Korean lullabies and songs that Shin remembers learning from her own mother, along with a few originals that maintain the album’s quiet serenity. Shin’s music contains traces of jazz laced into it; there is improvisation, but it’s delicate and reserved, never threatening to dispel the music’s intimate fragility. Shin caresses these songs as she would her own child, with a gentle and nurturing touch.
The collection pairs Shin’s lovely, placid voice with Aaron Parks’ hushed, spare piano and Rob Curto’s breath-like accordion. Parks is a gifted jazz keyboardist who recently released his own ECM debut, the solo outing Arborescence. He has also worked with trumpet great Terence Blanchard, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and as one-fourth of the collective James Farm with saxophonist Joshua Redman. Originally a pianist, Curto studied the accordion with masters in Brazil – an influence he shares with Shin, whose self-titled debut was heavily influenced by Brazilian music and earned a Latin Grammy nomination. More information for their performance at the Philadelphia Museum of Art can be found here.Yeahwon Shin