Linda Could Han Oh Quartet
(Pizza Categorical Soho. 12 November 2022. Assessment by Jon Turney)
A gradual string bass groove deep sufficient to sink into, embroidered from the drums, was an instantly seductive, no-nonsense begin to this riveting early present at a sold-out Pizza Categorical. By the point Linda Could Han Oh and Jeff Ballard – an orchestra in themselves – had been joined by intense exchanges between Greg Ward’s alto sax and Matthew Stevens’ guitar it was clear we might sit again and revel in a reasonably particular group.
Particular partly due to the chief, who has a glowing presence on the bass and a stash of characterful compositions and preparations. After the considerably summary urgency of the opener, Halo, she launched a clutch of items – some outdated and a few new ones destined for launch subsequent 12 months – that displayed a uncommon present for musical matching of title, idea, and composition. Lucid Lullaby actually has that high quality; Circles, titled with dissatisfaction in thoughts, has a nagging repetition within the nonetheless catchy melody; Hearth Dance conjured up the road scene it refers to by way of a strong duet for bass and hand-drumming and one other lengthy tour mixing guitar and sax; and Speech Obstacle had a correctly hesitant saxophone line with the chief complementing her electrical bass with an eloquent wordless vocal.
Stevens favours brittle chording and, much less typically, extra fluid single be aware traces; Ward – who one fancies nods to Chicago luminaries like Threadgill and Steve Coleman amongst many influences on his alto taking part in – can conjure a brand new melody at will or edge into freer terrain for dramatic impact. Add the deep-rooted understanding between the bassist and the comparative veteran of the 4 Jeff Ballard, who provides gravitas from the drum stool, and it is a formidable quartet.
A flawless eighty minutes of music: simply one in every of fifty performances the three Pizza Categorical venues are providing throughout the London pageant, however an actual gem.