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Andrew Oh: Andrew Oh

Already a certified hitmaker in Australia, saxophonist Andrew Oh looks to prove his chops to wider audiences with an eponymously titled solo effort (Honest Entertainment HONCD 1017; 45:03). Even when his material isn’t quite worthy, Oh makes it worth a listen through his delivery-stretching and bending past the typical romantic syrup on the soprano, and growling and diving with edgy immediacy on tenor and alto. Oh’s special talents take a totally ordinary arrangement like “Turn Up the Heat” (typical chord changes, typical R&B background vocals, typical breaks) and make it swing with his exuberant fills. When the material matches, however, the saxist really catches fire-evidenced on the bluesy, soulful “Far Away from Me,” with a hooky melody that a Levi Stubbs-caliber vocalist could easily wander into. Likewise, the Julia Fordham-penned “Happily Ever After,” arranged as a spacious, jungle waltz with bass and tribal percussion echoing, is wrapped in Oh’s snaking, intriguing soprano line.

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