Portrait of an Artist: Chase E. Morrin ’15 and Kevin Sun ’14
Jazz musicians Chase E. Morrin ’15 and Kevin Sun ’14 discuss their interpretations of Thelonious Monk classics
Last Wednesday, jazz musicians Chase E. Morrin ’15 and Kevin Sun ’14, a Crimson magazine editor, presented their take on the music of Thelonious Monk in the Winthrop Junior Common Room. Morrin, on piano, and Sun, on tenor sax—both of whom are part of the Harvard/New England Conservatory of Music Joint Program—put together the concert as a first step in a broader plan to bring Harvard and NEC musicians together. Emphasising a democratic and spontaneous playing style, the pair aimed to approach Monk classics like “Straight, No Chaser” and “’Round Midnight” with a fresh angle.
The Harvard Crimson: It’s clear from hearing you guys play that you aren’t just jamming on top of a couple of Monk tunes—you seem to have really come up with a new arrangement for most of these. What was your approach to coming up with new arrangements?
Kevin Sun: It’s funny that you say that we really clearly have arrangements. I think it might come off that way, but a lot of the time—especially for this particular concert, because we didn’t have that much time to rehearse—we’re sort of forced to come up with arrangements on the spot. I think creatively we agree on a few key points.
Chase E. Morrin: Yeah, we did a little bit of, just like—“Oh, ‘’Round Midnight,’ we’re going to do it à la Impressionistic.” That was pretty much it.
KS: And then from there, I think within that, there’s enough of a focus that the piece isn’t going to go all over the place. It won’t be discontinuous.
CEM: With two players, you can really do a lot. You don’t have to stick to a form, you don’t have to arrange things as you normally do for a group—you can let things happen. And since there are only two players, you’re connected. You can really make things happen on the spot.
KS: There’s an unbelievable amount of freedom, especially playing with Chase. Chase has huge ears. He will hear anything that someone else plays and then adapt to that. So it’s fun playing with Chase, because when we play one of these [tunes] that have been played who knows how many times, we can do something different every time. We can just change time signatures on a dime. We can change keys if we want—we can change almost anything, as long as we agree on it mutually, which we can because we’re only two people. With four people, making those mutual agreements is more clunky.