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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo courtesy of NPR

Photo via NPR

“Casual listeners to jazz who might not tune into big differences between bass players would notice Linda Oh,” writes Ben Ratliff in The New York Times. “Her music leans forward at you. She has a percussive touch, graceful and sometimes aggressive, and she likes playing fast, walking or soloing or delivering a jagged ostinato. She’s justifying the role of bassist as bandleader, starting the tunes, pushing the band, delivering clean, strong rhythm and melody.”

Linda was born in Malaysia, but spent her formative years in in Perth, Australia. She cycled through piano, clarinet, and bassoon – studying each from the perspective of the European classical tradition – before eventually picking up the electric bass, an instrument she initially learned through the lenses of big-band jazz and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After finishing her undergraduate studies in music with distinction in Australia, the bassist moved to New York to pursue a graduate degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where she now teaches bass in the pre-college division.

Since arriving in New York, Linda has made a splash as a bandleader with two critically-lauded releases: 2010’s self-released Entry, featuring the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and the drummer Obed Calvaire, and 2012’s Initial Here (Greenleaf Music), featuring the saxophonist Dayna Stephens, the pianist Fabian Almazan, and the drummer Rudy Royston, as well as guest vocalist Jen Shyu. She is also highly sought-after as a sideperson, and has shared the stage with Steve Wilson, Kenny Barron, Dave Douglas, and many others. Her talents have been recognized by the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition, in which she received a honorary mention, and the BASS2010 competition in Berlin, in which she took second place.

This Friday, Linda makes her first appearance at our new home leading the quartet featured on Initial Here. Come and hear the daring interplay that earned this group a four-star review in DownBeat and a feature among PopMatters‘ Best Jazz of 2012.

Watch a video of Linda premiering “Ebony” at The Jazz Gallery. This piece is part of a larger work commissioned by The Gallery as a part of our 2012 Residency Commissions series, Leading From the Bass. Linda recently announced her intention to release the audio from the premiere as a live album later this year. You can also read about the work in the composer’s own words in a previous post here.