Album Title: First Steps
Performer: Min Rager (piano).
Label: Effendi Records
Playing time: 61'31"
Recorded: Studio Piccolo – Montréal Canada - 2009

It could have been the first steps for Min Rager but this is not the case here We are only dealing with a nod toward modal music and John Coltrane's "Giant steps". In 2004 her group with members Kevin Dean (trumpet), Kieran Overs (bass), Andre White (drums) and Donny Kennedy (alto saxophone) completed a studio recording for the CBC Radio II program Jazz Beat. The recording was released as Min's debut CD Bright Road on the Effendi label in October of 2005.

Coltrane as the essence of jazz overshadows this new outing as a pure new bop session but these ten fingers do not possess the authority of Mulgrew Miller. The rhythm is not as thrilling as could have been the case with Tony Williams on drums. The saxophone is not as warm as it could have been in the hands of Billy Pierce - yet it's been quite a long time since I listened to a good new bop album and this one is quite good. The musicians have not changed since their debut album except for sidemen Fraser Hollins and Alec Walkington.

The game of the young Min obviously needs more maturity but the spirit is present and thus the promise of a beautiful future for the Korean pianist. Born in Seoul, Korea, Min Rager began her jazz career performing in local jazz clubs. Her reputation quickly grew and by 1996 she was performing with some of Korea's top jazz musicians in a variety of settings from clubs to concerts. In 1997 she moved to Montreal to attend the McGill University, study jazz in more expert hands, form a band and play the most famous Canadian jazz clubs. Min is currently on staff both at McGill University as a part-time faculty member where she teaches courses in the jazz department; and at the McGill conservatory where she teaches jazz piano.

Min Rager is a truly generous piano virtuoso but also very creative spirit. First Steps is an exclusive collection of her own original music. And if we remain with a very common score,  her beauty and sensitivity are quite today uncommon, above all for a blues feeling. Rager can play either straightahead fast, cool or dramatic. She has enough musical background to put the right color where it is needed with good timing. Her music is anchored in inventive bebop sensibilities. I found no specific weaknesses amongst these ten tracks. I loved the eloquent chops displayed by Kevin Dean on "Portrait of Miles". I loved the beautiful and gorgeous ballads, especially "Persistence of memory". And there is a beautiful homage in the last track where Min plays duet with her husband and pianist Josh Rager.

If this young lady is coming to visit Paris, I will surely not miss her stage performance. The beginning of this century seems set to celebrate plenty of young jazz women. You know what, I'm happy!