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Oded Tzur: intercontinental sax

The New York-based Israeli saxophonist released his new album "Here Be Dragons" on Munich label ECM, and drew inspiration from concepts of Indian music... a globe-trotting trip!

Door Marc Zisman | Video van de dag | 18 februari 2020

Having moved to New York like a great many Israeli jazz artists, Oded Tzur quickly established his unique tenor saxophone for a simple reason. His teacher was not a player of the instrument, but was none other than the ultimate master of the bansuri flute Hariprasad Chaurasia. By exploring the subtleties of classical Indian music and ragas, the Tel Aviv native was able to build his knowledge of jazz differently. For his arrival on ECM, Oded Tzur joined forces with pianist Nitai Hershkovits, double bassist Petros Klampanis and drummer Jonathan Blake.

Each theme on Here Be Dragons presents itself as a sort of mini raga developing over a moving bass and playing on the juxtaposition of two very different musical concepts. “The dialogue between these dimensions takes us wherever it takes us,” details the saxophonist. “For me, the raga is a universal concept. I hear its connection to synagogue prayers or to the blues -- a marvellous creation -- and to music all around the world.

This is a vision he shares with his three colleagues who are all on the same wavelength as him. The level of restraint, the accuracy of the interventions and the talent of manipulating silence are the most impressive on this record, as Tzur easily avoids the contemplative and self-indulging traps. The depth of his sound even allows him to create a rather captivating narrative. The blissful singing appears to invite you to a journey within. This is a sublime album which finishes with a rather surprising cover of Can’t Help Falling In Love by Elvis. With no gimmicks, Oded Tzur makes the King’s iconic hit his own and thus completes his grandiose entry to Manfred Eicher’s label with a cheeky wink.


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