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“Heros” Live in St. Petersburg

by The Urge Trio

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Герой 24:24
Eroe 08:19
Héros 08:35


Liner Notes

When The Urge Trio—saxophonists Keefe Jackson and Christopher Erb alongside cellist Tomeka Reid—performed at the Masterskaya Anikushina in St. Petersburg, Russia, icons of a vanished world surrounded them. As Jackson describes it, this community arts center had been the workshop of Mikhail Anikushin, the 20th Century sculptor who built imposing statues of Soviet heroes. So, the three titles of these open-ended pieces are the word “heroes” in different languages. Adding to the sense of big historical personas, Urge performed at the venue right around the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. But this group does not make its incredible statements using the expected volume of radical armies. Subtle gestures and intuitive communication from three musicians who know each other well shape its music.
This trio’s resourcefulness sounds like they have as much ideas at their fingertips as Jackson’s larger ensembles (like Fast Citizens). Indeed, the absence of some expected instruments seem to encourage Jackson, Erb and Reid to stretch the possibilities of what they do have. A case in point is the upper register dialog featuring soprano and sopranino saxophones (alto is skipped over entirely). On the opener, “Герой,” Jackson and Erb emphasize how their combination of reeds can be intertwined not just alongside each other but also against sharply timed silent passages. Their extended breaths also shape “Eroe.” On that track, Reid highlights the cello’s percussive quality as Jackson and Erb speak volumes through a few sharply placed high-pitched notes. Her lovely dissonant arco lines ignite the opening of “Héros”as she sounds like she is constructing the piece from the bottom up on a moment’s notice. Jackson and Erb’s circular breathing provides the ideal response.
Geographic distance could be a formidable challenge for this trio. Jackson and Reid are Chicago-based although their schedules can keep them far from home. Meanwhile, Erb resides in Switzerland. But none of this has prevented them from touring since 2015 and recording three albums. Still, like their music itself, Jackson would rather not make a huge deal out of what they have had to overcome to get here. He would rather quietly let the music explain itself.
“Your background is just the background, it’s past and this is music of the present,” Jackson said. “The question is: What are we doing now, what’s the result? How does it sound? That trust not just in each other, but trusting the music, trusting the moment and not questioning it too much.”
Soft spoken, but direct: Thinking like a true low-key hero.

—Aaron Cohen


released December 10, 2021

The Urge Trio
Tomeka Reid - cello
Christoph Erb - soprano and tenor saxophones
Keefe Jackson – tenor, sopranino saxophones and bass clarinet

Recorded by Ilia Belorukov on February 18th 2017 at Masterskaya Anikushina, St. Petersburg
mixed by Bill Harris

all music (c) 2017 by
Tomeka Reid – ASCAP
Christoph Erb – Suisa
Keefe Jackson - BMI

Cover by sonnenzimmer
-veto-records/exchange doo3-

Special thanks to: Ilia Belorukov, Konstantin Samolovov, Sergey Kostyrko, Sonnenzimmer - Nadine and Nick, Aron Cohen, Bill Harris

Live in St. Petersburg:


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