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Album Stream: Linda Oh's 'Initial Here'

Marc Rosenfeld Antunes
Staff Writer / @mcrantunes

[Listen to Linda Oh in the Nextplayer]

Malaysian born bass player and composer Linda Oh's second release as a leader is coming out very soon, on the 22nd of May, on Greenleaf Music. The quartet is composed of acclaimed sidemen, including Dayna Stephens on saxophone, extremely versatile drummer Rudy Royston and Fabian Almazan on keys. The group works audibly harmoniously well, in terms of dynamics and feel. Vocalist Jen Shyu contributes a deeply melodic lead to the fifth track, "Thicker than Water".

Linda Oh was born in Malaysia, and later moved to Perth in Australia. She picked up the double bass as a young teenager and has since received several honors, including an honorary mention at the 2009 Thelonious Monk semi-finals and a Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year in 2010. She went on to complete a Master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music and has recorded one album as leader prior to this one.

The album is a display of versatility, exposing two sides to her musical personality. One, wild and energetic, a little awkward and very tight. The introductory piece, “Ultimate Persona” is perhaps one piece representative of this tendency. And yet, these pieces, such as “Deeper than Happy”, though heavy, rhythmically stylized, still maintain a flowing atmosphere. Another, slow and expressive, profound and rich in emotion, as seen in the beautiful “Thicker than Water”. It cannot be helped that the listener sees the finale, “ Deeper than Sad”, as a summing up in dark terms of the entire album’s themes, while building onto the saga of “Thicker than Water” and “Deeper than Happy” an energetic piece.

The pieces of the album build up on a continuum, fit into a whole, and create a context painting a picture of an artistically schizophrenic composer. This album needs to be seen as a whole, and when that is done, a real artistic and expressive masterpiece is recognized. Enjoy it streaming this week on Nextbop.

Marc Antunes is a student, writer, and critic. Follow him on Twitter.