Helen Sung

Helen Sung


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Wardrobe by Vivienne Tam, Photo by Kat Villacorta


Helen Sung is an acclaimed jazz pianist and composer, and a 
2021 Guggenheim Fellow. A native of Houston, Texas, and graduate of its High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), she eschewed her classical piano upbringing after a jazz epiphany during undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Helen went on to become part of the inaugural class of the Thelonious Monk Institute (now the Herbie Hancock Institute) at the New England Conservatory of Music. Her newest album Quartet+ (Sunnyside Records), garnered a 4.5 star DownBeat review and inclusion in its "Best of 2021 Albums" list, and a JazzTimes cover story (January 2022 issue), while previous releases Sung With Words (Stricker Street), a collaborative project with renowned poet Dana Gioia, and Anthem For A New Day (Concord Jazz) topped the jazz charts. In addition to her own band, Helen has performed with such luminaries as the late Clark Terry, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Regina Carter, Terri Lyne Carrington, Cecile McLorin Salvant, and the Mingus Big Band. Recent activities of note include Re-Orientation: Asian American Artists Out Loud (made possible by a Chamber Music America Digital Residency grant): provoked by anti-Asian violence, Helen teamed her quartet with a poet, a hip-hop artist/rapper, and an installation artist in a series of interdisciplinary events to celebrate the range and diversity of Asian American artistry. Helen's 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship is being applied toward a mutli-movement composition for big band; one of the movements, "Wayne's World," won the 2022 BMI Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize. Helen has served on the jazz faculties of the Berklee College of Music and the Juilliard School. She is currently visiting faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and an Associate Professor at Columbia University, where she also was the inaugural jazz artist-in-residence at its Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute exploring the intersection of jazz and neuroscience. Helen is a Steinway Artist.

Download Complete Biography >>


Jazz Community

As a classical-turned-jazz artist, one of the things I have come to love the most about this American art form is its generous, communal heart: this is music made together, played together, and enjoyed together. Tenor legend Jimmy Heath told me (during my studies at the then Monk Institute) the jazz bandstand exemplified true democracy, where the musicians each had a role to play, everyone got a chance to shine and have their say, but in the end they create something greater together than they could on their own. After the prolonged isolation of the pandemic, getting to play (and hang!) with beloved colleagues and tour again has been a joy and revelation: as Maestro Heath taught me, we need one another. May we take this message out into the jazz venues of our nation, and the world. Details about upcoming shows here.

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New Release!
Helen Sung Quartet With Special Guest Harlem Quartet

Helen Sung Quartet With The Special Guests Harlem Quartet

Releases as Leader:

Helen Sung with Marquis Hill, Everybody's Waltz
Sung with Words
Anthem for a New Day
Going Express
Sung Bird

Purchase all at Helen Sung Store >>

As a Support Player:

Various artists
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra & Wynton Marsalis
Handful of Keys
Frank Lacy & Mingus Big Band
Mingus Sings
Marcus Printup
Dara Tucker
The Sun Season
Fabio Gouvea
Greg Tardy
Iris Ornig
No Restrictions
Ronnie Cuber
Steeplechase (2011)
Lonnie Plaxico
Ancestral Devotion (2009)
Brother Thelonious Quintet
Brother Thelonious (2009)
Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion
Live at the Zinc Bar (2008)
Metta Quintet
Subway Songs (2006)
Greg Tardy
The Truth (2005)
Clark Terry & The Young Titans of Jazz
Live at Marian's Jazzroom (2005)
Ester Andujar - Celebrating Cole Porter
Ester Andujar
Celebrating Cole Porter (2005)
Tom McIntosh - With Malice Toward None
Tom McIntosh
With Malice Toward None
IPO Recordings (2004)
Lonnie Plaxico - Melange
Lonnie Plaxico
Blue Note Records (2001)
Kristin Lomholt
To Bring Him Here
(Pianist & Co-producer, 2000)
Patrice Williamson - My Shining Hour
Patrice Williamson
My Shining Hour
(Pianist & Arranger, 1999)
Thelonious Monk Institute
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at NEC
Volume One (1997)


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