Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jazz Face: The Bassists' Saxman, Alex Han

Alex Han: 2005, 2009, 2012
© Andrea Canter

When Alex Han first appeared in the Twin Cities in 2005, he was a 17-year-old alto saxophonist headed to the Berklee College of Music, already winner of numerous awards and competitions including a Yamaha Young Artists Competition and a spot in the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generations Band. It was his first Twin Cities Jazz Festival. He was back four years later to perform with Jon Weber, and now a winner of an ASCAP Young Composers Award and a veteran of tours with Marcus Miller. Apparently he has special appeal to electric bassists, touring in 2011 with Richard Bona and Stanley Clarke, and returning this week to Minneapolis, this time with Miller’s sextet at the Dakota, following extensive work with Miller through 2012. Not bad gigs for a 24-year-old. His compatibility with Miller was obvious, particularly when the two went head to head, and even horn to horn when Miller picked up the bass clarinet. I was impressed seven years ago with young Alex’s soulful sound and seemingly effortless and soaring improvisations. I was further impressed last night with his solo, far-flung soprano adventures as well as his exchanges on alto with another young lion, trumpeter (and Prince affiliate) Lee Hogans.

Today, Alex might be a first call saxman for the giants of electric bass. But I imagine he will soon be leading the band that puts out a call to Marcus or Stanley. And soon, we will see the Alex Han ensemble back at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.

Photos of Alex Han at the Twin Cities Jazz Festivals in 2005 and 2009, and at the Dakota Jazz Club on September 12, 2012, by Andrea Canter.