Described by Downbeat Magazine as “A Volcano on the Ocean Floor“, Oded Tzur’s flair for mystery and narrative captivates audiences worldwide. Based in New York, the saxophonist’s work draws influence from the art of storytelling and explores relationships between ancient and modern musical traditions. His two albums on Enja Records (2015 & 2017) have earned his music the title: “A new type of Swing”, and won extraordinary critical acclaim in Europe, South Africa, Japan, South America, Russia and the US. Tzur’s unique language of improvisation takes the listener on a journey many describe as “musical storytelling”, and evokes deep contrasts between silent passages and dramatic crescendos.
Coming from the Tel Aviv jazz scene of the 2000’s, Oded Tzur’s background consisted of rigorous training in a number of musical styles. His curiosity for improvised music led him to discover the ancient art of Indian classical music, which had set him on the path to become what Downbeat Magazine later called “an explorer of the microtonal”.
In order to pursue the rare undertaking of playing Indian music, a style heavily based on microtonality, on a western instrument such as the saxophone, Tzur embarked on a decade-long research to construct a new saxophone technique — A Middle Path — as it was later named. The technique enables the saxophone to slide between the notes and highlight specific microtones, and departures from traditional saxophone playing so distinctly that the Indian grandmaster Hariprasad Chaurasia once summed it up by saying: “If a curtain were to be drawn in front of him, no one could tell which instrument was being played”.
In 2007 Tzur became the first saxophonist to learn from the legendary Indian flutist. Chaurasia’s elegant phrasing, spiritual depth and rhythmic mastery have had a profound influence on the saxophonist’s music. The work process consisted of countless sessions in which Chaurasia would play a melody on the Bansuri – the Indian flute – and Tzur would then have to translate it onto the saxophone. Following the flutist’s intricate style has refined Tzur’s technique to the point where it started attracting attention from the international saxophone community.
Saxophonists from Sydney to San Fransisco have been learning about Tzur’s technique and its possible implications. He was also invited to lecture on the subject at a number of key institutions, such as Trinity College of Music, London, the Copenhagen Conservatory, the Amsterdam Conservatory and more. “For a subject that started as a solitary practice and was deemed impossible at first, it’s humbling to see the attention and interest the technique has received during the past few years”, says the saxophonist.Read more
- Translator's Note by Karl Ackermann
- Translator's Note by Neri Pollastri
Radio & Podcasts
- Here Be Dragons by Karl Ackermann
- Here Be Dragons by Mike Jurkovic
- Isabela by Mario Calvitti
Year in ReviewRead more articles
“If a curtain were to be drawn in front of him, no one could tell which instrument was being played” – Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia
"A Discovery" - Radio France
“The audience remains in suspense and hardly dares applaud, not to break the magic of the moment.” – Jazzques (Belgium)
“Oded Tzur enters the international Jazz scene as a musical storyteller” – Concerto (Austria)
Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson
Here Be Dragons
Where We Started
Tone Rogue Records
Like a Great River