Linda Oh Sun Pictures
Friday, March 28th, 8 p.m.| Fulkerson Recital Hall, HSU
"Her music leans forward at you. She has a percussive touch, graceful and sometimes aggressive...She’s justifying the role of bassist as bandleader."
—Ben Ratliff, New York Times
"Sun Pictures is an album of achingly fragile beauty...Oh's most accomplished work to date."
—Hrayr Attarian, All About Jazz
The twenty-something Australian, born in Malaysia to Chinese parents, first made a splash in 2009 with a self-released debut album that showcased powerful playing, adventurous writing, and a little-known trumpet prodigy from the Bay Area named Ambrose Akinmusire. She generated even bigger waves in early 2012 with Initial Here, a monster quartet date that was picked up by Dave Douglas’s Greenleaf Music label. (Not by coincidence, she’d also landed high-profile gigs in Soundprints, the supergroup co-led by Douglas and Joe Lovano, and in the newest incarnation of Douglas’s own quintet.) In that album's wake comes something very different, a set of "musical postcards" from Oh's recent travels that Nate Chinen of the New York Times calls her "most unassumingly assured" project so far. Recorded direct to two-track, live in the studio, Sun Pictures is a string of understated, evocative, sometimes dreamy tunes that (as NPR's Kevin Whitehead said of her previous record) "connect points on a musical map."
Oh grew up in Perth, Western Australia, a remote town with a surprisingly lively jazz scene. But it was classical piano and bassoon that filled her childhood, and when she first picked up the (electric) bass in high school, it was to learn Flea's licks for covers of Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. She made the switch to upright acoustic in college, and in 2005 she moved to New York, where she took a Master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music and an honorable mention in the 2009 Thelonious Monk competition.
If people are drawn in by Linda Oh's story, then they're hooked by her music: her poise and confidence as a player, her broad palette as a composer. It was in 2012 that the raves started rolling in (and NPR came calling, and DownBeat named her "Rising Star Bassist," and...). But musicians had known for a while what the media were just discovering. Oh has answered calls from Steve Wilson, Kenny Barron, and Cyrus Chestnut in addition to Douglas and Lovano. And her circle of peers includes the hippest up-and-comers: besides Akinmusire, her past bands have included Obed Calvaire, Dayna Stevens, Fabian Almazan, Sam Harris, and Rudy Royston—nearly all of whom have released acclaimed projects of their own in the past year. Oh has also backed up tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon, piano-sax brother act Pascal and Remy LeBoeuf, guitarist Gilad Hekselman (Anat Cohen Quartet), pianist George Colligan, and drummer Marcus Gilmore (Vijay Iyer Trio).
The studio version of "Sound Pictures," meanwhile, features Ben Wendel (Kneebody) on sax, Oh's fellow Aussie James Muller on guitar, and Ted Poor (David Berkman Trio) on drums. On this tour, Matt Stevens fills in for Muller, while Justin Brown (Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet) takes Poor's place at the drumkit.
One last thing: sure, there's another young bass player with a pair of "X" chromosomes who's been in the spotlight these past few years. Oh’s talents are every bit as great. We think it’s her turn to shine.
Linda Oh will also present a pre-concert workshop at noon on Friday, March 28th in Room 131 of the Old Music Building on the HSU campus. People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.
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