Friday, June 08, 2012

Linda Oh - Initial Here (Greenleaf Records, 2012)

Bassist and composer Linda Oh’s debut album, Entry, made my best of list of 2009, and her new album is equally as good, developing a more diverse range of music and colors to build from. Linda Oh plays both acoustic and electric basses, along with Dayna Stephens on tenor saxophone, Fabian Almazan on keyboards, Rudy Royston on drums and Jen Shyu singing on one track. The album leads off in an ebullient fashion, with the opening tracks “Ultimate Persona” and “Something's Coming/Les Cinq Doigts” building a strong sense of modern swing with powerful uptempo full band playing. The original “Mr. M” and the cover of Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” are taken at a slower pace, with the former developing a feeling that is majestic, dreamy and spacious, with the latter is played in a reverential fashion. “Deeper than Sad” also demonstrates the band’s accomplished acoustic ballad playing featuring Stephens developing a wounded and bruised saxophone tone. “No. 1 Hit” is a lot of fun, with the song’s title showing some wry humor while the pastel colored electric piano and thick bass develops a medium tempoed, well-textured groove. As the song continues, there is section for nicely swinging upbeat saxophone, and a well developed bass solo with electric piano and a rapid fire bass and drums section. “Thicker Than Water” takes the music in an altogether different  direction with Jen Shyu singing poetic lyrics and the leader playing over-tracked bass as well as bassoon. “Little House” and “Deeper Than Happy” return to the electric groove with swirling fender rhodes piano and Oh getting a nice and dexterous voice on the electric bass. There’s a well done section for rhodes and saxophone to trade ideas on “Little House” and bubbling electric bass feature on “Deeper Than Happy. Almazan develops an interesting tone on “Desert Island Dream” that sounds like ringing chimes, lending an interesting sound where his shadings frame strong saxophone and cool bass. This was a well done and thoughtful album. Linda Oh is clearly full of ideas and the variety of music on this album along with the high quality musicianship make it quite memorable. Initial Here - amazon.com

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