BIGYUKI performs at the Winter Jazzfest Half-Marathon on Saturday at Nublu.
Last fall in the same room, this jazz-synth artist performed an intoxicating show, presented and captured live by The Checkout. The energy was magical, and we’re thrilled to share two new videos from that performance.
BIGYUKI doesn’t look like your typical jazz artist. Lodged in the middle of a variety synthesizers, effects, and keyboards, he functionally serves as both the bassist and keyboardist in his band. Joining him are Randy Runyon on guitar and Charles Haynes on drums. Setting aside the high-tech visual impression, his arrangement of “Changes / Soft Places” reveals the mind of a true jazz arranger.
The album version of “Soft Places,” from Reaching for Chiron, features Bilal on vocals. “It is a challenge for me to recapture the feel of the original version,” BIGYUKI says. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to reproduce the vibe on a bandstand. One day I was hanging at Rolling Loud Festival in Miami and heard the XXXTentacion song ‘Look At Me,’ which sampled Mala’s ‘Changes.’ The intro sampled vocal loop just did some magic to me, at the rainy muddy festival site. I just decided to remix two together.”
The next composition was born backstage on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, when BIGYUKI performed as the show’s house synth player. “I was hanging at the greenroom after filming the show,” he says.
There was also Louis Cato there chilling. I was playing around on the piano, and came up with the ostinato phrase. I showed it to Louis and he sat on the drums. We started jamming, and I casually recorded it on my phone, which became the intro of this tune. I recorded it with Randy Runyon and Lenny Reece in a studio. I felt the song was missing some melody hook. I showed it to Reuben Cainer, and he came up with the chopped vocal hook that appears in the middle of the song.
To learn more about BIGYUKI’s development — from studying Chopin as a child to performing on A Tribe Called Quest’s last album, listen to my conversation with him from last summer.