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What We Live: Soundcatcher (2006)

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What We Live: Soundcatcher How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Creative music is called such because, regardless of instrumentation, it tests boundaries, develops new approaches and fosters originality. In addition, by serving as a stimulus, it engenders creative listening. Saxophonist Lawrence Ochs, bassist Lisle Ellis and drummer Don Robinson are collectively known as What We Live, a trio whose works meet these criteria on all counts. Sound Catcher, a structured integration of traditional Kazakhstan folk music with jazz improvisation, is a live recording that captures a highly organic musical experience in time.

Ochs, a founding member of the ROVA saxophone quartet, makes his tenor and sopranino saxophones speak in tongues and assume other identities. Ellis uses a specially constructed bass and electronics to set up a process he calls "string, circuitry, confluence, which creates a juxtaposition of natural and electronic sounds. Robinson is a wonderful meld of percussionist and drummer who can equally thrill with technique or create tension with minimalism.

While on a gut level these cuts are bluesy and the rhythms are obvious, the amazing style of vocalist Saadet Türköz takes this session to the next level. She uses phrasing, improvisation, range and sheer power to match each player's virtuosity or rise above them in song. She jousts vocally with sax, drums and bass, or melds with their timbres, all the while (or most of it, anyway) remaining true to her Central Asian roots.

After leaving East Turkestan as a child due to Chinese oppression, Türköz and her family arrived in Istanbul, where she became interested in vocally improvising Koran text. As a young adult, she arrived in Switzerland, becoming entwined in free jazz. Her presence transforms the trio: the bass magically becomes an oud, the sax transmutates into a flute, and the drums morph into percussion. Creative music for creative listeners and an outstanding vocal treat.

Track Listing: Raise Up An Ocean; One (for Lacy); The Kiss Off; Arvak (the Spirit); Native Girl With Big Ears; Sound-chaser.

Personnel: Lisle Ellis: acoustic bass; Larry Ochs: sopranino, tenor saxophones; Donald Robinson: drums; Saadet Trkz: vocals.

Record Label: Fire Museum Records

Style: Fringes of Jazz


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