‘The best saxophonist in Hong Kong’: jazz album by Timothy Sun showcases music by young composers in the city
- Manager of record label issuing Sun’s album full of praise for the in-demand saxophonist, who has played at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Barbican in London
- S’way with Me album features tunes written by young Hong Kong composers, and will be launched on CD on August 13, with two live performances a day later
It’s unusual for a jazz record to be released in Hong Kong, let alone one made up of new music by local composers. But thanks to a young record label called Ginger Muse, saxophonist Timothy Sun will soon fulfil his dream of having a solo album.
His album S’way with Me is being launched on August 13, and features 10 new compositions by promising young composers such as Joyce Cheung, Pong Law, Perry Lau, Harris Ho, Joe Lei and Yin Ng. A live performance is scheduled in the West Kowloon Cultural District on August 14.
Sun, 38, was born and raised in Macau, where he was first taught the violin by his late grandfather. “But I was quite upset because I could not play it in tune, so I changed to the saxophone when I was 10 or 11,” he says.
At the age of 13, he enrolled in the Ellen Wilkinson High School of Art in the UK to study saxophone and clarinet. He then won a full scholarship to pursue his bachelor’s and master’s degree at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London.
Since then, Sun has performed in top venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York and Wigmore Hall and the Barbican Centre in London, and has been much in demand in Hong Kong, where he is a saxophone coach at two universities and where he co-founded Contrast Trio with two college friends, violinist Kitty Cheung and pianist Jenny Ng, and Smash, a harmonica-piano-saxophone music group.
During a pre-launch event for the album, pianist Pong Law accompanied Sun in a performance of his piece Clap Clap, a playful tune buzzing with energy.
Composer and pianist Joyce Cheung was also there to perform her soothing piece Does the Sun Sleep with Sun. “It’s like a warm reminder that the sun does not sleep but we are human beings and we need to rest,” she said.
Cheung is a co-founder of Music Lab, a non-profit organisation that promotes young musicians in Hong Kong and which used to run a regular festival featuring talented local acts. In 2020, when live performances were cancelled because of the coronavirus, Music Lab launched record label Ginger Muse. Later that year it issued Cheung’s solo album Set Loose.
She will be music director of the August 14 S’way with Me concert, leading an eight-piece ensemble including strings, guitar, bass, drums and piano.
Flavian Luk, the 31-year-old manager of Ginger Muse, says Sun is “a very presentable artist with excellent music. He is perhaps the best saxophonist we can find in Hong Kong.
“We have all been friends for over eight years. We would go to his gigs and concerts to support him,” he says.
Ginger Muse hopes its recordings can help support the careers of Hong Kong instrumentalists, with the pandemic having severely affected the music industry.
“We had a vision to promote a more balanced ecosystem because the market is quite behind on this,” Luk says. “We found a lot of friends who really needed an outlet to promote themselves.”