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Multiple Reviews

Catherine Sikora's Paris Sessions at the Centre Culturel Irlandais: Sancturary and Things To Do In Paris


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Irish saxophonist Catherine Sikora, who makes New York her home, is a dynamic improviser and an innovative composer who, from the start of her career, has had a unique sound. Her mastery over her instrument as well as her expansive and multifaceted aesthetics make her albums completely absorbing. In 2020 she released two captivating, live recordings that showcase her evolving style and mature approach to spontaneous creativity.

Catherine Sikora

2020 The first Sanctuary is a single, unaccompanied piece from an appearance at Paris' Centre Culturel Irlandais where she had spent a month of residency. Opening and closing on wistful and contemplative tones the kaleidoscopic music is filled with emotive warmth and intellectual brilliance. Sikora's undulating, sinewy lines and resonant vibrato create a haunting atmosphere that has an undercurrent of primal spirituality.

Sikora makes her tenor wail and moan as she embraces delightful dissonance yet maintaining the tune's melodic character. As the performance progresses it becomes a free flowing tone poem that wavers from pensive introspection to acerbic wit.

Shortly past the midpoint, Sikora introduces,, briefly Irish folk motifs making her saxophone mimic the mellifluous staccato of uilleann pipes. With vibrant and circular phrases Sikora ushers in the melancholic yet hopeful conclusion.

Catherine Sikora and Ethan Winogrand
Things to do in Paris

The second, Things To Do In Paris documents a 2014 collaborative session at the same center, with New York native and Oviedo, Spain based, drummer Ethan Winogrand. The two musicians exhibit uncanny camaraderie as their vibrant, extemporized dialogues crackle with ingenuity and electrifying vigor.

The opener, "Jeu de Paume," for instance, is crafted out of lithe and sinewy exchanges that create a restless and thrilling ambience. Sikora's fiery phrases reverberate over Winogrand's rumbling beats and soar gracefully over the drummer's thunderous polyrhythms. The momentum builds to a climax where the tune comes to a stimulating end.

In contrast the final track "Meet Me in the Courtyard" is more introspective with Sikora's lilting eloquent tenor meandering within Winogrand's furious percussion. The two musicians' unfettered stream of consciousness monologues reflect their individualities yet are complementary as they elegantly dash towards the intriguing finale.

The artists create diverse pieces with sophistication and candid intensity.. The eerily pastoral "Forest Walk" is cinematic in its serpentine saxophone lines over galloping, quivering drums. The melody is simultaneously angular and lyrical as Sikora's musings flirt provocatively with atonality and Wingrand lays down an exacting, martial groove. His exhilarating solo closes the track.

Sikora excels in intimate settings and her releases are either unaccompanied like the superb Jersey (Sikoracat Music, 2016) or in duo or trio formations, like the poignant Tracks In the Dirt (Clockwork Mercury Press, 2013). These Paris sessions are no exception. Here Sikora, yet again, demonstrates her singular voice while continuing to be boldly original. Over the course of a decade and 11 albums Sikora has built an impressive career. Her output could be enough for a lifetime, yet in her case, she is only getting started and that is truly impressive.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Sanctuary

Personnel: Catherine Sikora: tenor saxophone.

Things to do in Paris

Tracks: Jeu de Paume; Wallaby Visit; Victor's Arena; Forest Walk; Meet Me In The Courtyard.

Personnel: Catherin Sikora: tenor saxophone; Ethan Winogrand: drums.

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