Larry Ochs - Sax & Drumming Core
Up From Under - Out Trios - Volume Five


What We Live
Sound Catcher

[Fire Museum Records,]

Atavistic's Out Trios Series keeps on going strong with its fifth installment. This time around we get saxophone god Larry Ochs [Rova] sharing the bill with two very hot, extremely talented percussionists - Scott Amendola and Don Robinson. Better known for his involvement with Nels Cline Singers, Amendola sounds absolutely mesmerizing in the right channel. His non-descript, quite ferocious drumming is at the core of just about every piece on the record. Not to be outdone, Don Robinson [whom I once had the opportunity to witness at work with Glenn Spearmann's Double Trio] is full of fury as well. He is the force, the reason I feel Larry Ochs agreed to record this ensemble. It's not enough to say that his percussive wrath [in the left channel] is maddening. It is absolutely hellish and straight to the point. Each time Ochs blows into his tenor or sopranino, Robinson is right there, along side. When they're in agreement, the drummers produce a wall of sound. When they back off - as they do on "Dragons Fly" - the subtlety of their brush strokes is reason enough to celebrate this record. While the furious pieces have all the power and rupture to allow steam to escape, it's the more subdued ones that seem to work equally as well. "X-09" for instance features gliding sopranino spurts and whistles that are accompanied by ever-slight percussive rolls. Flashing with intensity and imagination to spare, "Up From Under" is as strong a record as any that any of these players have produced on their own accord.

In a different setting, Larry Ochs blazes in his What We Live project that is now in its fifteenth year. Close to a dozen albums down the road, the trio invited Turkish vocalist Saadet Türköz to share the stage. "Sound Catcher" sees them at the prime of their powers during a live performance in Buffalo back in 2004. Over the span of an hour, Ochs' playing is full of solid bursts of prowess. His tenor is used as heavily as the sopranino horn. Lisle Ellis is a force to be reckoned with on bass - plucking his way through murky waters - while Donald Robinson's percussive layers are laden with intricate details heard only when one pricks up one's ears. What's great about this project is the trio was forced to adapt their playing to Türköz's vocalizing. If anything, her vocals are haunting, eerily beautiful, delicate and packed with power all in one breath. Many times, her vocals are centered around a prayer-like calling out to a higher power. Listen to the way she calls out in a spiritual manner on the opener "Raise up an Ocean". Over a span of nearly ten minutes, her hollers heat up in intensity as Ochs wraps his sopranino cries around her. "Sound Cather" is a stunner of an album that's not to be missed.

- Tom Sekowski

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