Linda Oh: Persevering Against the Odds
When asked what attracts her to playing the bass, there's a fire in her response. "I really got into the bass later, when I was in college. I love the whole groove sensation, its warm sound, whether electric or acoustic; it is the foundation, the way it holds things together." Though female bassists are sorely outnumbered, the jazz playing field is not void of several women who are making an impact. Leaders such as Me'Shell NdegeOcello, Esperanza Spalding and Anne Mette Iversen are just a few of the brilliant examples of composers/musicians who put to rest any questions about their talents.
Yet less recognized artists, regardless of who they are, will always be questioned about their chops. When asked how she's been received by other musicians who aren't familiar with her, Oh replies, "At the end of the day I have to focus on the music, not to second guess how I'm perceived or about my abilities. It is difficult at times. There will probably always be people who question whether I can play; it's the reality of the game." She recalls, "Ambrose and I have laughed about it at times, as some musicians have asked him behind the scenes, 'Never heard of her; can she really play?' I just put my blinders on and do what I do." And she doeswith passion, depth, and authority. Her playing speaks for itself.
With growing notoriety come increased work, opportunities and decisions in handling the workload. It can be a constant battle to manage it all. "When I first moved to New York, like everyone else, you take on everything that you can get. Your aim is to play as much as you can and get as much experience as possible, while also trying to make a living and make connections. I've been here for four years, I'm at the point where my stuff as a leader is getting off the ground, and my band is touring Europe soon. We're getting more calls." After a number of recordings with newer artists like saxophonist Sarah Manning and pianist Fabian Almazan), master classes, and finishing 2nd place in the BASS2010 Competition in Berlin, it's with much anticipation that she gets back into the studio to record her next release. "Besides all the other things I'm doing in generaltrying to become a better bassist and play with great musiciansI have a few different ideas for my next recording," says Oh. One idea includes recording her "Concert in the Dark" concept that combines a string quartet with a jazz quartet, strategically positioned around an audience, with minimal lighting to enhance the listening experience.
Planning ahead, Oh states that she's already thinking about where she wants to be in the next five years, the music she wants to play, and choosing the most direct route. Whatever her endeavors, she is poised to have an indelible impact.
Sarah Manning, Dandelion Clock (Posi-Tone Records, 2010)
Linda Oh Trio, Entry (Self Produced, 2009)
Thomas Barber's Janus Bloc, Snow Road (D Clef Records, 2009)
Jason Hainsworth Jazz Orchestra, Kaleidoscope (Self Produced, 2009)
Page 1: Adria Leboeuf
Page 2: John Kocijanski