The Glass Hours (Biophilia Records)

Linda May Han Oh

Released June 2, 2023

AllMusic Favorite Jazz Albums 2023




Award-winning bassist and composer, Linda May Han Oh leads this dynamic group of musicians on The Glass Hours: a collection of works based on abstract themes of the fragility of time and life; exploring paradoxes seeded within our individual and societal values. The music is striking, rhythmically exhilarating and explores a wide sonic palette blending acoustic with electric elements, offering a provocative take on contemporary improvisation and composition.

Track Listing:

1. Circles (Linda May Han Oh) 06:49

2. Antiquity (Linda May Han Oh) 06:42

3. Chimera (Linda May Han Oh) 05:33

4. Jus Ad Bellum (Linda May Han Oh) 08:29

5. The Glass Hours (Linda May Han Oh) 06:37 

6. The Imperative (Linda May Han Oh) 09:15

7. Phosphorus (Linda May Han Oh) 07:23

8. Respite (Linda May Han Oh) 03:44

9. The Other Side (Linda May Han Oh) 09:24

10. Hatchling (Linda May Han Oh) 05:08


Linda May Han Oh: electric/acoustic bass + voice

Mark Turner: tenor saxophone

Sara Serpa: voice

Fabian Almazan: piano + electronics

Obed Calvaire: drums


On her sixth album as leader, 2023’s The Glass Hours, bassist Linda May Han Oh leads a virtuosic post-bop quintet whose sound is both atmospherically hypnotic and technically dazzling. It’s a balance she’s been exploring since her 2009 debut and one she’s expanded upon with her previous albums for Biophilia, the label launched by her husband, pianist Fabian Almazan, who joins her here. Where 2019’s Aventurine showcased her vibrant orchestral arrangements, The Glass Hours is somewhat of a continuation of the kinetic small-group vibe of 2017’s Walk Against the Wind. The main difference here is the lineup, with Almazan being the only musician to return. Also joining Oh are saxophonist Mark Turner, drummer Obed Calvaire, and vocalist Sara Serpa — each gifted soloists who play with a deep and egoless affection for each other. With her pure-toned voice and adept harmonic abilities, the Lisbon-born Serpa is a crucial element to the group sound Oh achieves on The Glass Hours. She is essentially another frontline instrumentalist alongside Turner, a style that brings to mind the work of British singer Norma Winstone, especially her ECM recordings with pianist John Taylor and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. Oh exploits this instrumental vocal quality throughout The Glass Hours, crafting songs that make the most of the harmonic interplay between Turner and Serpa. It’s especially evident on the fusion-esque “Phosphorus,” where the vocals and sax notes meld into one cascading rainbow of sound. Adding to this rainbow-like effect is Almazan, who, along with his spiraling piano lines, adds occasional electronic flourishes, like the airy whoosh that leads into “Circles” or the glassy, rewinding tape sound that swoops in towards the end of “Chimera.” There’s a kaleidoscopic nature to Oh’s songs, as on the title track (one of three where she plays electric bass), where her warm plucked chords underpin a rising series of vocal and saxophone “La’s.” It’s a style that evokes the circular repetition of composers like Steve Reich and Brian Eno. Elsewhere, as on the slowly moving “Respite,” Oh and her band embrace a hushed, monastic resonance, surrounding the listener with a kind of jazz Gregorian chant.

Matt Collar (AllMusic)