All About Jazz - USA

The third release of pianist and composer Katya Sourikova looks and sounds like something fitting the ECM catalog - the beautiful cover, the pristine and rich sound of the recording, and obviously, the genre-binding beautiful, lyrical and nuanced music that moves freely and organically along the spectrum of jazz, both American and European, as well as folk music and classical music, all without subscribing fully to any genre but embracing it all.

Sourikova has collected ten self-penned compositions, all written when she began to explore the harmonic and melodic possibilities of the new language of jazz, as well as its boundless energy, after finishing her classical music studies. All the compositions have been rearranged, but all still capture their innocent freshness, clarity and their warm, melodic, cinematic narratives.

The opening soft ballad, "In the Dark," references Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett's lyrical playing, but Sourikova enriches the simple, fluid structure by adding a Bachian counterpoint. "Off the Beam" features the sensitive interplay of the core quartet, with short, well-articulated solo parts by bassist Simon Nauer and tenor saxophonist Oliver Fox, all thoughtful and opinionated.

"Twilight," Sourikova's first jazz composition, sensually weaves the modal innovations of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock with an impressionist harmonic language, reminiscent of the works of French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. Norwegian trumpeter Gunhild Seim contribute warm and soulful playing to this memorable composition. "Queen Maud Land," in its two parts, stresses the ECM aesthetic, with its cinematic, dreamy narrative of a distant, chilly journey.

The title piece is a successful exercise in integrating the improvised, energetic syncopated lines, influenced by such innovative saxophonist as Charlie Parker with the analytic exploration of folksy, pulsating rhythms by composer like Béla Bartók. Sourikova present her disdain with the politics of war on two compositions. The lyrical "Hagakure" draws its inspiration from the book The Way of the Samurai, and attempts to touch this sore issue from the perspective of the consternation of the women of the samurais preparing for another war. The more whimsical "Switchblade," originally titled "Puppet Tango," is Sourikova's sinister response to the futile war in Iraq. This impressive album is concluded with the optimistic, rhythmic "For Love Once More," another beautiful and arresting melody, that after hearing it, convinced trumpeter Dave Douglas that he needed to drink vodka.

Free Jazz, Belgium

This album could well fit within the ECM catalogue, because of it's genre-defying nature. Yes, it's jazz because of the instruments. Musically though, it is as close to romantic classicism or soundtrack music. For the latter, the music is certainly visual and imaginative. The notes are sparse, clustered around silence, and the music develops slowly, like morning mist slowly dissolving with the upcoming heat of the day. The texture is light, transparent and open-ended, like poetry without rhyme. There are even moments, as on the last track which are directly reminiscent of Jarrett. Yet the album has its moments of intensity too, adding character and variation.

The band is Katya Sourikova on piano, Curtis Macdonald on alto sax, Ivan Bamford on drums, Remi-Jean leBlanc and Rick Rosato on double bass.

The quality of the production, including the cover art and the booklet are also quite close to the ECM standard. Sourikova is a young pianist who deserves wider attention and who is clearly worth following. A great promise.

Cadence Magazine

While the piano trio is one of the most traditional forms in Jazz, even in its most mainstream incarnations, it has proven not only sturdy but multifarious. Many of its greatest exponents, from Evans and Peterson to Jarrett, have found playing standards to be the key. But on its wilder and furrier edges, the piano trio has a notable tradition in free improvisation as well. By its very nature, the piano is harmonically constrained instrument. Monk taught us to use seconds to stretch that palette with dissonance, and Taylor by abandoning melody and harmony reminded us it was a percussion instrument. But the piano trio remains naturally introspective and pretty, and therein lies both its popularity and its limits...

...Katya Sourikova leads a trio on Angels & Satellites, and though she adds the tenor and mostly soprano saxes of Curtis MacDonald to more than half of the tracks, the predominance of her piano voice and her compositions makes this feel like a trio recording. It’s not that MacDonald disappears, far from it, but his voice is clearly subsidiary to unity of her trio. His work may be the salt, but Sourikova’s piano and compositions are definitely the meat and potatoes. The pieces work like a suite, taking the listener on a journey from lyrical impressionism and strange beauty through rough tossed energy and noise and then back again. Sourikova has an impressive range of technique, and both a lyric and a dramatic sense of structure.

...there are many ways to enrich the piano trio formation in Jazz, by throwing the attention to the bassist or the percussionist, or by exploring the little sounds away from the keyboard, or even by adding a fourth voice to the trio. Yet that basic form of a piano with rhythm section remains as vital as ever.

All About Jazz, USA

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Sourikova's sophomore release after Steps in the Snow (Weave Records, 2008), with American saxophonist Curtis MacDonald - features the pianist as a mature composer and player, who defies genre boundaries between jazz and modern music. The ten-piece suite references the short cinematic poems inside the liner notes, which add a visual component to the music's thematic narrative in their concise description of the deeper aspects of human life: joy; inspiration; disillusion; hope; confusion; and existentialism.

Sourikova chose the tracks for this suite out of many sessions that were recorded on various trips to New York and Montréal between 2006 to 2008, all captured superbly.

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Her quartet is augmented by producer Michael Avery, who blends in subtle electronics. As on her debut recording, the music develops in an organic manner with a fluid, almost telepathic understanding between Sourikova and MacDonald that affects the patient interplay of other musicians. But if Steps in the Snow was an extremely serene document of mutual interplay, here there is a gradual attempt to form more dissonant textures, as the suite evolves.

The suite begins with a cycle of slow, sensual and spare compositions. Sunset in SnowAngels & Satellites I and December Sky all possess folkloric themes, followed by a duo of Sourikova with Macdonald on the brief Homage to Messiaen, a tribute to French composer. On Angels & Satellites II, Sourikova effects a change of atmosphere, her impressive intense playing, with fragmented chords and nuanced dense patterns, concluding with a simple, beautiful theme.

I, Sputnik
and Canopy Tale are beautiful, abstract compositions that, again, testify to the rare musical understanding between Sourikova and MacDonald - whether alone or with Avery's eerie electronics—articulating themes from basic elements like whispering into the saxophone mouthpiece and ringing piano chords.

Angels & Satellites III and Angels & Satellites IV offer dissonant rhythmic outbursts, as Sourikova leads the musicians to energetic heights. This most beautiful recording is concluded by the majestic, minimalist Fall.