Dec 20 2012
Tiny Reviews, featuring: Linda Oh Initial Here, Linus Lindblom Objets Trouves, and Roberto Verastegui Meeting Point.
Today’s Tiny Reviews all were released in the first half of 2012. I could’ve written reviews of them at that time, but each presented me with facets that, I dunno, made me want to keep them on my review shelf, keep listening to them sporadically throughout the year, and then put up some final words about them at the end of 2012. I don’t often indulge that particular luxury, but I did for a handful of 2012 releases. These were three of them.
Linda Oh – Initial Here
This is bassist Linda Oh‘s sophomore release. The various promo materials going around about this album refer to Initial Here being an album about identity, and point to Oh’s heritage and the geographical expanse of her influences. It was that aspect of the album that really hung me up for awhile. Because, y’see, I never really heard any of those influences, at least, not in any substantial way that would define this album. Yes, there are moments that could get pointed to, but for the most part, this is simply a wonderful straight-ahead modern jazz album, one that makes a statement on the merits of its music.
Your album personnel: Linda Oh (acoustic & electric bass, bassoon), Fabian Almazan (piano, Fender Rhodes), Rudy Royston (drums), Dayna Stephens (tenor sax), and guest: Jen Shyu (vocals).
I originally fell for this album after my second listen. By the time I got around to scheduling it for a third, I was really looking forward to it. That was back in May. I listened to it a few more times, then took several months off. Here’s what I find I’m enjoying as much, if not more, than when it first hit my stereo.
The pairing of Oh’s arco bass and bassoon and guest Jen Shyu’s mix of English and Mandarin Chinese vocals on “Thicker Than Water” is just too pretty to be considered haunting, but, yeah, it is kind of haunting.
Second track “Something’s Coming/Les Cinq Doigts” has some delicious conversational shifts that Oh brings about seamlessly, like disjointed passages of a short story that flows with an effortless fluency.
Fourth track “No 1 Hit” has a neat electro-groove presence, but doesn’t wash out the post-bop personality.
The back and forth trade of lyrical phrases by Oh’s bass and Stephens’ tenor sax on “Little House” provide plenty of tiny thrills. When Almazan enters the fray on Rhodes, it just gets better. And it’s just one more display of Royston’s talent at getting his point across on drums without stepping on toes or speaking over the top of others. It’s where any album that has Royston’s name on it is one I’m enthused to hear immediately.
And that statement pretty well sums up how I’ve felt about this album for the better part of the year. Just damn solid music.
Released on the Greenleaf Music label.
Jazz from NYC.
Linus Lindblom – Objets Trouves
An interesting release from tenor man Linus Lindblom. He and his quartet are all firmly rooted in the Swedish Jazz scene, and their names can be found on other albums reviewed here on Bird is the Worm. What sticks out in my mind for Objets Trouves is how informed it is by American post-bop. Whereas many of the albums of his counterparts stay within the Scandinavian jazz sound, and if they depart, it’s more likely to stray into regional folk music, Lindblom, on the other hand, blends in some spirited refrains more akin to the jazz I’d expect to hear coming from the U.S. Pacific Northwest scene or some of the Brooklyn scene (specifically what the Brooklyn Jazz Undeground label is putting out). It makes for a refreshing development. It’s really threw me for a loop the first time I ran it through the stereo, and then even several listens later. Further confounding me was that only a few months prior, I had raved about Lindblom’s performance on Martin Hoper’s The Bride, an album that will make my final Best of 2012 list. My ear just kept struggling to bridge the gap between expectation and reality.
Though many tracks do have a nice kick and drive to them, Lindblom isn’t coming out with a strong edge to all album tracks. Some album tracks do brood, and possess some of that Scandinavian atmosphere. But for the most part, it’s up-tempo and a dense tone that gives the tracks some thumping power when the notes hit.
Your album personnel: Linus Lindblom (tenor sax), Nils Janson (trumpet), Nils Olmedal (bass), and Christopher Cantillo (drums).
Released on the Hoob Records label.
Jazz from the Stockholm, Sweden scene.
Roberto Verastegui – Meeting Point
Meeting Point is a great example of the musician imperative to avoid a misstep on the album opener. On his debut album, Roberto Verastegui leads out with a pretty standard rendition of Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice.” Nothing wrong with it, also nothing notable. I braced myself for an album of more of same.
That’s not what I got.
What I got is an engaging set of compositions that have some very thrilling moments which have stood up well over the course of the year.
Your album personnel: Roberto Verastegui (piano & Rhodes), Quamon Fowler (tenor sax), Li Xiaochuan (trumpet), Jacob Smith (electric & acoustic bass), Matt Young and Jason ‘JT’ Thomas alternate on (drums).
Following the opening track, which has no cohesion to the rest of the album, second track “Dance Cadaverous” gets things underway with a slow build up to a breathless pace, lines within lines like a tornado developing inside of a tornado. Verastegui brings a fireplace warmth to the Rhodes on “Pee Wee,” which later attains a staggered gait on the combined strength of Smith and Young on bass and drums. And “Think Again” has a creeping tempo that Fowler’s sax lines comes to cross-purposes with, creating an enticing contrast in sound, further enhanced by Verastegui and Smith adding some focused, though intensely cyclical moments on piano and bass.
But where this album just knocked me over was Xiaochuan’s opening statements on “Memories Of Her Dream.” Enchanting notes that grow more still when Verastegui joins in. The build of one track to the next, establishing both a comfortable pace and hints of both fire and ice, it leads so fluently into this startling duo performance that, in most ways, sounds nothing that has come before it. I remember originally being dumbstruck by this album right at this same point when I first heard it. I was driving through the backroads of a sunny countryside, and it made me want to pull over on the side of the road so I could give the rest of the album my full attention. And now, almost a year later, I’m still struck by this beautiful moment on this wonderful recording.
I’m really surprised this recording didn’t get more attention. It deserves it.
Released on the Armored Records label.
Jazz from the Yucatan, Mexico scene.