Oded Tzur: Here Be Dragons

Mike Jurkovic By

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It's the sound of unresolved resolve. A broader scope of the human scale. That we all ask the same questions, walk down the same roads and it is that migration in, around and through our common, spacious moments and moral corners wherein we reach our conclusions, if not our destinations.

That's just part of what you'll gather from Israeli born/New York biding saxophonist Oded Tzur's hugely bracing and all encompassing ECM debut. Of course the dragons are right outside our door, but, if we are dining at each other's house and thus share the same door, any dragon can be tamed and/or vanquished. And it's not because Oded's teammates: songfully fluent pianist and fellow Israeli Nitai Hershkovits, fellow New Yorker, Grecian bassist Petros Klampanis who translates Tzur's stirring, translocating ragas with an invisible hand more realized than actually heard, and, rounding out this painterly quartet Philly's own Johnathan Blake, who employs his kit like a time machine.

No, it's because there's a sense of passage here; a purpose to get through the journey no matter the mountain range or sea. You hear it from the start, as Tzur's yearning, elegant opening statement evolves into a quixotically designed journey of team spirit: each instrument and player arriving at the right moment. Given blessings from bansuri (sideblown bamboo flute) master Hariprasad Chaurasia, Tzur faithfully rides the updrafts on the dusky imaginings "To Hold Your Hand" and "20 Years." As dusk settles, a sense a righteous, day's end gratitude carries "Years" as it unwinds with a quiet sweep: Blake's whispering, Hershkovits's lullaby, and Klampanis's uncanny ability to make our awareness an intrinsic component of his bass line, all revealing the leader's depth of empathy and folklore.

Like the three miniatures that precede it (featuring Hershkovits, Klampanis, and Tzur, in that order), the fully engaged "The Dream" wields a force all it's own, and accents Tzur's compositional approach that all group discussion include juxtaposing and desire to wonder Hershkovits (taking over from Shai Maestro, takes the lead with a master class of muscular tonality and percussive sway while composer and his rhythm cohorts run interference for the pianist's whim. Even if Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling In Love With You" may at first seem like a sly, pop joke, it quickly becomes a piece of the album and just may serve as the most conclusive, universal testament of all.

Track Listing

Here Be Dragons; To Hold Your Hand; 20 Years; Miniature 1; Miniature 2; Miniature 3; The Dream; Can't Help Falling In Love.


Additional details

Oded Tzur: tenor saxophone; Nitai Hershkovits: piano; Petros Klampanis: double bass; Johnathan Blake: drums.

Album information

Title: Here Be Dragons | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: ECM Records



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