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Katya Sourikova: Angels & Satellites

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Now splitting her time between London and Berlin, Katya Sourikova was born in Saint Petersburg and studied music in London and at the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, the latter under the tutorship of Dave Douglas and Marilyn Crispell. Angels & Satellites—her sophomore release after Steps in the Snow (Weave, 2008), with American saxophonist Curtis Macdonald—features the pianist as a mature composer and player, who defies genre boundaries between jazz and modern music.

The ten-piece suite references the short cinematic poems inside the liner notes, which add a visual component to the music's thematic narrative in their concise description of the deeper aspects of human life: joy; inspiration; disillusion; hope; confusion; and existentialism. Sourikova chose the tracks for this suite out of many sessions that were recorded on various trips to New York and Montréal between 2006 to 2008, all captured superbly. Her quartet is augmented by partner/producer Michael Avery, who blends in subtle electronics.

As on her debut recording, the music develops in an organic manner with a fluid, almost telepathic understanding between Sourikova and MacDonald that affects the patient interplay of other musicians. But if Steps in the Snow was an extremely serene document of mutual interplay, here there is a gradual attempt to form more dissonant textures, as the suite evolves.

The suite begins with a cycle of slow, sensual and spare compositions. "Sunset in Snow," "Angels & Satellites I" and "December Sky" all possess folkloric themes, followed by a duo of Sourikova with Macdonald on the brief "Homage to Messiaen," a tribute to French composer Olivier Messiaen. On "Angels & Satellites II," Sourikova effects a change of atmosphere, her impressive intense playing, with fragmented chords and nuanced dense patterns, concluding with a simple, beautiful theme.

"I, Sputnik" and "Canopy Tale" are beautiful, abstract compositions that, again, testify to the rare musical understanding between Sourikova and MacDonald—whether alone or with Avery's eerie electronics—articulating themes from basic elements like whispering into the saxophone mouthpiece and ringing piano chords. "Angles & Satellites III" and "Angels & Satellites IV" offer dissonant rhythmic outbursts, as Sourikova leads the musicians to energetic heights. This most beautiful recording is concluded by the majestic, minimalist "Fall."

Track Listing: Sunset in Snow; Angels & Satellites I; December Sky; Homage to Messiaen; Angels & Satellites II; I, Sputnik; Canopy Tale; Angels & Satellites III; Angels & Satellites IV; Fall.

Personnel: Katya Sourikova: piano; Curtis Macdonald: alto saxophone; Rémi-Jean LeBlanc: double-bass (2-10); Rick Rosato: double-bass (1); Ivan Bamford: drums; Michael Avery: electronics.

Title: Angels & Satellites | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Weave Records

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