Composer,Flute,Jazz,Piano,Rhodes,Sammy Stein,Steinway,Woodwind

Single review: “Prima Marteria” – Connie Han. Words: Sammy Stein.

Pianist/composer and Steinway artist Connie Han has released her single ‘Prima Marteria,’ which preludes the album ‘Secrets of Inanna’ due out in September. Connie Han has created more than a stir in the jazz world, bringing fresh, challenging ideas to the music. The single’s title references the primeval elements from which the universe was formed. The track features Han’s piano playing talent and flute and piccolo performance from Katisse Buckingham (Yellow Jackets, Prince, Herbie Hancock, and more).

Han says of the recording, “ The opening track of Secrets of Inanna is to be experienced as the primordial and tumultuous Chaos from which Inanna is initially forged. Defined as the original material of the universe, “Prima Materia” illustrates the crucial moment before she awakens and discovers her power, ambition, and destiny as the true Queen of Heaven and Earth.”

The single features Han’s talent for blending traditional and modern jazz with an ethereal nuance, emphasised by the alto flute and piccolo inclusions. Han plays Rhodes and piano, her stylistic playing creating a sense of awe and wonder.

The album will be Han’s third with Mack Avenue following 2020’s breakthrough ‘Iron Starlet’. The inspiration for the project is the Sumerian mythology of ancient Mesopotamia, specifically Inanna, the goddess of love, sensuality, beauty, fertility, and war. The Descent of Inanna chronicles the goddess’ journey into the underworld from her domain in heaven. Along the way, she must confront her older sister Ereshkigal, the Dark Queen of the Underworld, and her inner darkness; in the process, Inanna is killed and reborn as the Morning Star, eventually echoed in later tales of Venus, Ishtar, and Aphrodite.

Han says of Inanna, “Beloved by her people as the Queen of Heaven and Earth, she represents a shining beacon of femininity, grace, and poise. This multifaceted goddess is self-assured in her unabashed pride, sexual conquests, and audacity. Belligerent and feisty, Inanna stops at nothing to achieve her objectives as a passionate woman with an iron resolve and insatiable lust for power.” 

The album is yet to come and was conceived and written in partnership with the pianist’s longtime producer and drummer, Bill Wysaske. It features a stellar cast of musicians including bass great John Patitucci and veteran tenor saxophonist Rich Perry, with contributions by Katisse Buckingham on alto flute and piccolo and Wysaske on drums. 

From its ethereal opening, the ‘ Prima Marteria’ conjures up images of an intense and diverse universe as the track builds, with layers of melody contrasting with the tricky piano lines of complexity and challenge. The variation between periods of calm to those of intensity provides a constant flow of energy, which imbues itself throughout the track. As it progresses, Han’s piano imparts a sense of tumult, over which the ethereal layers of flute and the deep resonance of the bass from John Patitucci, offer contrast and depths. The slowing down from around the four-minute mark is particularly effective as it seems as if time momentarily slows to allow the true beauty of the music – and the universe – to be appreciated.           

Pre-save the album Secrets of Inanna, out on September 23, here.


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