Artist Update: Linda Oh


Linda Oh is a dynamo. As a bassist, composer and bandleader, she is one of the post in-demand musicians in jazz today, releasing her own albums, and performing with a host of artists including Geri Allen, Kenny Barron, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dave Douglas, Vijay Iyer, Joe Lovano, and Steve Wilson. She recently began touring with Pat Metheny in a new group featuring pianist Gwilym Simcock and drummer Antonio Sanchez.

She took a moment from her busy schedule to update us on her activities:

GLM: You’ve been on tour with Pat Metheny’s new quartet. What has that experience been like? 

The experience has really been a life-changing and unforgettable one. We’ve been playing a lot of Pat’s previous material – a lot of his trademark tunes from albums such as Bright Size Life, Question and Answer, and Travels. I’ve truly learned a lot from this new quartet – from the amazing tech crew and from Pat himself – about everything from sound, to gear, to tempos, to “playing the song” vs playing what’s subjectively “hip” or “creative.”

This first tour in Asia we played in venues ranging from intimate clubs – like Blue Note in Nagoya and Tokyo – to larger venues such as Seoul Jazz Festival, one of the most responsive crowds I’ve ever played for. The audiences throughout in Japan, Seoul, Hong Kong and Shanghai have been really warm and receptive. This was my first time doing an extensive tour in Asia.

GLM: You’ve recorded a new album to be released sometime in 2017. Can you give us a sneak peak about the recording?

A follow-up to my latest album Sun Pictures, this record features Ben Wendel on tenor saxophone, Matthew Stevens on guitar and Justin Brown on drums. We have played with this format a lot and it’s kind of a crazy mixture of tunes and some material that has evolved over the last couple of years.

“Mantis” is based on a Korean traditional rhythm, “ochae chilgut.” This was a piece I composed when collaborating with musicians at the 2013 Gwang Ju World Music Festival – a group consisting of Korean, Korean/Japanese and Australian musicians. “Ikan Billis” is the Malay word for anchovy. “Walk Against Wind” is my tribute to Marcel Marceau.

“Speech Impediment” was inspired by a talk given by Australian singer/songwriter Megan Washington, about her life as a “stutterer” and the discrimination she faced. This piece tells a simple fictional story of a man who has a stuttering problem and is unable to use his words to tell a woman he loves her. Eventually he finds other ways to convey his love, and with mutual love and empathy for each other everything ends happily, the way we always wish it would.

GLM: Being an active educator in various capacities, you’ll be teaching at the NJPAC All-Female Jazz Residency in July. What is your approach to teaching young musicians?

My number one goal is finding what sparks the student’s interest and bringing out the best in them. I feel like trying to discover that within themselves will lead them to long-term success, a sustainable work ethic and confidence.

GLM: You’re leading a group at the 55 Bar on June 6 with a different group than your recent gig at the Jazz Gallery. What do you have planned for this performance?

Greg Ward, one of my favorite musicians, is flying in from Chicago! Also two of my favorite musicians: Fabian Almazan on Rhodes (long-time partner in crime) and Justin Brown on drums, who is on the next record. He just played at the Brooklyn Bowl with Thundercat, which I’m sad to have missed. We’ll be playing some newer material from this new record (including some of the ones mentioned above) and some from the previous albums.

GLM: Do have any other plans for the summer?

Other teaching camps include: Stanford Jazz Workshop (alongside Ambrose Akinmusire, Camila Meza, Julian Lage, and Fabian Almazan) where I’ll be playing a short concert with Bobby McFerrin, the Banff Centre directed by Vijay Iyer and the Kimmel Center directed by Anthony Tidd.

I’ll also be at SFJAZZ with Fabian Almazan’s Rhizome on August 12th and I’ll be playing with my band at the Harlem Afternoon Jazz Series on the 26th July run by Craig Harris.

Linda leads her group at the 55 bar tonight.

Check out Linda’s Greenleaf releases Initial Here and Sun Pictures.