Recent Listening In Brief: Linda May Han Oh, Aventurine (Biophilia)
The album title, aptly, seems to suggest adventure. Indeed, the CD contains plenty of that attribute in the bassist-composer’s instrumentation, textures and rhythmic values. The name was suggested, however, by a certain shiny translucent mineral that seems to glow from within, as does much of Ms. Oh’s music in this collection. The inspirations for her compositions, her choices of fellow performers and the way she writes and presents much of her work here reflect the influence not only of her recent career as a bassist in great demand in New York City, but also her continuing close connection to the Australian jazz community. Some of her Australian colleagues, including a virtuosic string quartet, are included in Aventurine. Pianist Matt Mitchell, saxophonist Greg Ward and drummer Ches Smith are New York musicians with whom the bassist frequently collaborates. In her writing for the ensemble, and notably so for the tracks with strings and voices, Ms. Oh goes deep into polytonality with dramatic results in the 1951 Charlie Parker blues “Au Privave” and, more subtly, in the Bill Evans piece “Time Remembered.” Her own two-part “Rest Your Weary Head” has writing that supports and encourages group improvisation, yet another indicator of that streak of adventurism that flavors Ms. Oh’s approach to leadership.
Below, a promotional teaser (well-named) from Biophilia Records gives a sense of Aventurine’s, range.