Based in New York, Linda Oh is back at Wangaratta Jazz festival this year. She’s travelling with her quartet (Sam Sadigursky on tenor saxophone, Fabian Almazan on piano and Kendrick Scott on drums) all outstanding young talents on the New York jazz scene. At Wangaratta, she’s playing with this ensemble, and also in Fabian Almazan’s Trio and in a duo with Gian Slater.
We caught up with Linda this week by email.
You’ve recently been playing at the Village Vanguard. How did that come about and how was it?
It was a privilege and an amazing experience playing at such a historic venue – so many of my favourite musicians have played there and some of my favourite live recordings were done in that very room.
The week at the Vanguard was a CD release for Fabian Almazan’s debut CD – Personalities – which I was very proud to be a part of. Fabian’s music is really something else – I think it’s special to find someone with a unique voice, whose music is exciting and moving whilst also being somewhat accessible.
For most of the week it was just trio (With Henry Cole on drums) but the first two nights included a string quartet
I noticed you toured in Europe this summer with Dave Douglas Tea for 3. Your posts sounded like you were having an absolute ball! How did you come to be part of this group and touring with Dave Douglas? Can you tell me about a couple of stand-out moments for you during that tour?
I first met Dave when I attended the Banff program for Creative Music in 2007, and back then I wouldn’t have imagined I’d be getting a phone call four years later to play with his group. It was really unreal touring with such amazing musicians – all of whom I’ve looked up to pretty much since I started playing jazz. It’s invaluable playing with, and even just talking with more experienced musicians – even just hearing all the stories. There were a lot of great moments during that tour, it was my first time playing at North Sea Jazz festival, which was a lot of fun – pretty much a jazz carnival. Another was playing on outdoor concert in the middle of hills in Sardegna for one of Paulo Fresu’s birthday concerts.
Can you tell me about the band you’re touring with in Australia? What is the connection with these musicians, and what do you particularly enjoy about playing with them?
I’m coming to promote a CD “Initial Here” that will be released in early 2012. This is a quartet album – features Rudy Royston on drums, Fabian Almazan on piano and Dayna Stephens on sax. It also features some strings and guest vocalist Jen Shyu.
It’s really a treat playing with the musicians who are coming with me – all of whom have incredible musicianship and sensitivity. Fabian Almazan was in the same year with me at Manhattan School of Music and we’ve been playing ever since. On drums we have Kendrick Scott (who plays with Fabian in Terence Blanchard’s quintet). I first played with Kendrick a few years ago on a gig with mutual friend in the west village – it’s always a blast playing with him – and it shows as he’s pretty much one of the most in demand drummers around. Sam Sadigursky I met when I was filling in a few dates playing with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society. Sam has a real unique approach and an ability to elevate things to another level with his fluidity and colour. I feel as a bass-player especially, when you lead a band with original challenging music it’s important to have musicians that you can really trust and I definitely feel that with these musicians.
I notice you have gigs coming up in Australia in addition to the Wangaratta jazz festival. Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to while you’re here? Musically or otherwise?
It’ll be good to catch with friends and family, and to go back to my home town – Perth – playing at a great venue The Ellington and also doing a clinic at WAAPA where I studied. I’m looking forward to playing Venue 505 in Sydney. It’s been two years – far too long, and I owe a lot to the the musicians in Perth. I’ll also be visiting my sister in Broome which I’m looking forward to – I hear it’s an amazing place with an incredible history and a very diverse population.
What are you listening to now?
Charles Mingus Plays Piano, Pedrito Martinez, Donny Mcclurkin, Nico Vega… the list is endless…