In all of her art, pianist/composer Helen Sung welcomes “listeners into her world: a place of passion, adventure and drama, and truckloads of rhythm…taking audiences for a ride they won’t soon forget.” (Kalamazoo Gazette)
With a band that includes some of the finest artists of this generation, she is poised to take her place as one of the preeminent voices on today’s jazz scene. Sung’s music has been called “soulful”, “smart”, punctuated by irresistible grooves: this is high art overflowing with a warm humanity that is both thrilling and unforgettable.
A native of Houston, Texas, and graduate of its renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Sung was an award-winning classical pianist before “a Tommy Flanagan solo changed everything”. She went on to graduate from the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance: an intensive program accepting only seven students, it was an unprece dented opportunity to study with some of the greatest masters of jazz music. Highlights of the two-year program include performing at the Kennedy Center and touring India and Thailand with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.
Now based in New York City, Sung won the 2007 Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition and was a semifinalist in the 1999 Monk Piano Competition. She has five first-rate albums to her credit including a 2011 debut CD on Steeplechase Records (re)Conception and a “dazzling” 2nd CD (a live recording) on Sunnyside Records: Going Express (2010). Her Sunnyside debut Sungbird After Albeniz (2007) was a jazz-classical project hailed as “a real winner” (All About Jazz); Helenistique (her 2006 sophomore release on Fresh Sound Records) was praised as “one of the year’s most exciting listens” (JazzTimes). Sung’s latest album is her 2014 debut on Concord Records, entitled Anthem For A New Day.
Sung was featured on the late Marian McPartland’s celebrated NPR Piano Jazz program, and with acclaimed debuts at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Detroit International Jazz Festival, the DC Jazz Festival, Seattle’s Earshot Festival, the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Festival, she is also stepping onto the international stage – she was featured at the Wigan International Jazz Festival, China’s Jz Festival, India’s “Jus’ Jazz” Festival, Poland’s Kalisz International Jazz Piano Festival, and her NuGenerations project toured southern Africa as a US State Department-Rhythm Road Jazz Ambassador.
She has worked with such jazz luminaries as Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, Ron Carter, Jon Faddis, Wayne Shorter, and MacArthur Fellow Regina Carter. In addition to her own band, Sung can currently be seen with fine ensembles including the Mingus Big Band & Mingus Dynasty, T.S.Monk Band, and Terri Lyne Carrington's ‘Mosaic Project’ (she also performed on Carrington’s Grammy-winning Mosaic Project album).
2014 Anthem for a New Day (Concord Jazz)
2011 (Re)Conception (SteepleChase)
2010 Going Express (Sunnyside)
2007 Sungbird (After Albeniz) (Sunnyside)
2006 Helenistique (Fresh Sound)
2004 Push (Fresh Sound)
"Sung actually leaves the listener wanting more"
Ken Dryden, All Music Guide
"Pianist tackles the standards and writes one herself"
Tom Hull, Village Voice