Home is the debut album from South Korean vocalist Song Yi Jeon and Brazilian guitarist Vinicius Gomes, two virtuosic musicians who come from completely different backgrounds and life experiences, yet speak one language: jazz.

Released November 18, 2022.

Korean-born, Swiss-based vocalist Song Yi Jeon and Brazilian-born, New York-based guitarist Vinicius Gomes are proud to join the roster of Dave Douglas’ Greenleaf Music with their inspired duo album Home. Showcasing their own compositions as well as pieces by Keith Jarrett, Carlos Aguirre, Dominguinhos and Jimmy Rowles, the duo partners match their extraordinary technical command with a highly expressive connection to each other, to their material and their listeners as well. The great George Garzone has praised Jeon for her way of making music “that sounds upside down when it’s rightside up.” She has performed with the likes of Ambrose Akinmusire, Django Bates and John Hollenbeck and released the albums Straight (2014) and Movement of Lives (2018). Gomes released his debut Resilência in 2017, followed by Changes (2020) in collaboration with Spanish saxophonist Santi de la Rubia, Jorge Rossy and Doug Weiss. He has worked in a wide range of settings with Duduka da Fonseca, Magos Herrera, Jon Cowherd and Seamus Blake, among others.

The strength of Home, according to Jeon and Gomes, “comes from the meeting of two people from completely different cultures, backgrounds and life stories…. Even if you’re coming from practically opposite directions, you can still meet at a common point. The journey documented here has helped us identify the many meanings of the word ‘home’ as the identity we carry wherever we are: our values, our story, our past, present and future.

Jeon and Gomes first connected through a song: Jimmy Rowles’ intricate and haunting minor-key ballad “The Peacocks,” which they both independently chose while performing in the FOCUSYEAR program held at Switzerland’s Basel Jazzcampus. Fittingly they include the song on Home under the title “A Timeless Place,” with lyrics by UK jazz legend Norma Winstone. It is the only track that finds Gomes on electric guitar (he is mainly heard on the nylon-string acoustic). On this and every piece on Home, we hear their “common point,” as the artists describe, “in the way we interpret each other’s compositions, in how we interact and improvise together, and in the shared aesthetic sense that makes us gravitate toward pieces by other composers we explore.”

From the start of the opening Gomes original “Eleven Houses,” Jeon’s prodigious skill with fast, leaping lines in odd meters is abundantly clear. She demonstrates rock-solid rhythmic and pitch control across every register. She is equally surefooted with slow legato melodies such as Keith Jarrett’s classic early ’80s ballad “Prism,” which Gomes chose for the session, as well as her own elegant waltz “A Lonesome Place.” “Song Yi has been an inspiration for me since the first time we played together,” Gomes says. “She has qualities that are vital to a musician, like her ability to hear what is happening around her, the accuracy, consistency, things that seem purely technical at first but are really what frees me to play the way I do in our duo, because I know there is trust between us.”

Jeon brought in the bracing “Milonga Gris,” by Argentine pianist and composer Carlos Aguirre, a challenge relished by Gomes. The guitarist responded in turn with a song he calls “the Brazilian ‘Donna Lee’” — the furiously difficult “Nilopolitano” by late Brazilian accordionist and singer Dominguinhos, which Jeon learned handily note for note. (At one can view Jeon performing her transcriptions of solos by Charlie Parker, Lyle Mays, Chris Potter, Miguel Zenón and more.) 

Gomes’ guitar work encompasses melody, counterpoint and rich harmonic voicings all at once, and his ability to match melodic nuances in unison with Jeon can be breathtaking. Their chemistry is readily apparent on the moody, swaying 5/8 Gomes piece “Albany” and the bright 6/8 Jeon vehicle “Dancing Stars.” “Song Yi writes on piano and I love that,” says Gomes, “because a lot of what she writes is non-idiomatic for the guitar. So with ‘Dancing Stars’ I had to understand what elements were structurally vital without translating the information literally. I’m thankful that she’s open enough to ‘let go’ of the ideas on paper and allow me to explore aspects of the composition she might not have thought of originally. As for my tunes, most of them I wrote thinking of Song Yi’s voice, and I’m very happy with how she embraces my writing.”

This duo also blurs the line between improvisation and composition to a remarkable degree — only Jarrett’s “Prism” features no soloing at all. “When we rehearsed,” Jeon recalls, “it was like finding a path, and each time we created a new path. But we keep the essence of the compositions in our improvising. ‘Flow,’ for instance, is really all about the flow of the music, so the improv should be a development of the melody as well.” Gomes concurs: “I think we both have a vision of not going ‘off-topic’ when we improvise. The fact that we can come up with entire new sections on the spot is something that makes this duo special for me.”

Along with “A Timeless Place,” the only other song on Home with written lyrics is Jeon’s bright waltz “Expecting Spring,” though the Korean lyrics are by Jeon’s mother. After relocating to a more rural setting for health reasons, her parents suddenly had gardening to do, and this involved trial and error. Steps had to be taken at exactly the right time. In year two, Jeon recounts, “they did everything right because of the experience of the previous year. So it’s about their expectation of what they’ll see and when.” The rough translation of her mother’s words: “Expecting spring, with the spring branches budding now. We can smell it. The daffodils bloomed early in the warm winter. Kind neighbors watered the tree, which made me feel the spring around me. Before, the tree was cut too early, but this year we’ll see the flowers, I expect.”

Track Listing:

  1. Eleven Houses
  2. Dancing Stars
  3. Prism
  4. Expecting Spring
  5. Albany
  6. Milonga Gris
  7. Flow
  8. A Lonesome Place
  9. A Timeless Place
  10. Nilopolitano


Song Yi Jeon, voice
Vinicius Gomes, guitar

Production Credits:

Executive Producer: Dave Douglas
Producer: Song Yi Jeon and Vinicius Gomes
Recorded at Jazzcampus Studio (Basel – Switzerland) in January 2020
Recording engineered by Patrick Zosso except Nilopolitano, engineered by Roland Baumann
Assisted by Daniel Somaroo
Mixing and mastering engineer: Thiago Monteiro
Graphic design: Boyeon Choi

Eleven Houses, Albany, and Flow composed by Vinicius Gomes (Vinicius Gomes Publishing / BMI)
Dancing Stars, Expecting Spring, and A Lonesome Place composed by Song Yi Jeon (Song Yi Jeon / SUISA)
Prism composed by Keith Jarrett (Cavelight Music / BMI)
Milonga Gris composed by Carlos Aguirre (SADAIC)
A Timeless Place composed by Jimmy Rowles with lyrics by Norma Winstone (Kudo Music Company)
Nilopolitano composed by Dominguinhos (Universal Publishing Ltd.)

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