Bassist in the Pat Metheny Quartet alongside the guitar great, pianist Gwilym Simcock and Birdman drummer composer Antonio Sánchez, Linda (May Han) Oh’s latest studio album is to be released in mid-April on Biophilia Records. Oh, as the Malaysian-born Australian was known when she burst on the scene, now also including her birth name in her full nomenclature, initially championed by Dave Douglas is I suppose alongside Esperanza Spalding, among the most high profile female jazz bassists probably anywhere on the international club and festival jazz scene. But her style and artistic persona is of course different. Spalding, certainly in a funk rockier space at the moment and moving more electric while Oh prefers acoustic primarily. Both players certainly came out of modern mainstream straightahead jazz situations, in Spalding’s case with Joe Lovano who of course Douglas has worked with a lot. And Oh has played with both the trumpeter and Blue Note label veteran tenorist in their popular Soundprints outfit who put out for instance a high profile Live at Monterey record not so very long ago and regularly tour to the UK. Walk Against Wind features the core quartet of Kneebody saxophonist Ben Wendel, guitarist Matthew Stevens, who was coincidentally with Spalding on Emily’s D+Evolution, and the highly effective drummer Justin Brown last heard by marlbank on brilliant form performing with Ambrose Akinmusire and who reminds me of the power and glory of Dennis Chambers or Billy Cobham. The net result of the Oh concept on these tracks is some remarkably gutsy highly propulsive pulse-heavy yet airy very rhythmic freed up post-bop which is full of engrossing melodic twists and turns and where intersecting rhythms and different points of entry create driving patterns and somehow rational resolutions. Listen to excerpts, above
Interlocking patterns the name of the game
Brooklyn band Dawn of Midi’s Dysnomia (**** RECOMMENDED) may mean nothing to you. Why should it, it’s not even out yet? Well it will mean something to you when you hear it I’d guess unless your ears have fallen down a pot hole and there’s a kind of odd scary subterranean sonic glare that only allows you to hear old Glenn Miller records properly. Californian bassist Aakaash Israni of Indian descent; Moroccan-born former CalArts student pianist Amino Belyamani; and Connecticut percussionist Qasim Naqvi have come up with something special here. The indie rock press is picking up on it, but it’s kind of jazz as well really although keep that to yourself. There’s been an album already called First that disappeared without a trace and an EP apparently called, not that imaginatively, Live; but the time is right now. The label putting out Dysnomia a word that has stumped the lexico-boffins of at least two well known dictionaries I checked * is Thirsty Ear, best known for its sterling work putting out Matthew Shipp’s albums in quantity. So what’s it all about and is Dysnomia actually beyond definition that the title suggests? Well, not quite. ‘Sinope’ is like Terry Riley-meets-Radiohead which is not a bad place to be. Not as austere as The Necks but not that far away. But how samey is it? Well not very: locked grooves are a great leveller and to my mind running the changes in old bebop patterns can be pretty samey and tedious sometimes too if you can guess where the improvising line is going, which you often can. But when you can't, it's sheer joy. I’m not sure about how much improvising is going on here, but it does feel loose. The scintillating ‘Atlas’ channels the percussion sound of a Zakir Hussain perhaps, whereas the set-up on ‘Nix’ is pure road movie soundtrack; and you can imagine someone like Ry Cooder adding a lonely moment or two to scythe the air here. The band themselves name check Aphex Twin and Can as influences; and there’s been a lot of post-production with two mixes and mastering processes involved. Not that the sound is glossy at all. ‘Moon’ starts to veer off into a space that could go anywhere, and Belyamani even starts to channel Brad Mehldau a bit just with single notes. ‘Ymir’ has a jangling bhangra feel to the beginning (great dance tune), so it's music for the mind and the body as well.
Released on 6 August
Dawn of Midi’s Qasim Naqvi above left, Aakaash Israni, and Amino Belyamani. Photo: Falkwyn de Goyeneche
(* The word means possessing a difficulty or inability to think of the right word at the right time; but the context here is that the titles are moons!)
UPDATED Belyamani is Moroccan-born and the music is not improvised. Apologies.