Sainkho Namtchylak

The Gift

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This 1987 recording of the Moscow Composers Orchestra led by pianist Vladimir Miller and featuring in its ranks none other than Vladimir Reizitsky and Vladimir Tarasov on violin and drums, respectively, is perhaps their finest recording. It isn't because of the choice of material, nor is it because the band, shambolic as it is, was particularly inspired by its own vision. Simply put, it was the appearance of the inimitable Sainkho Namchylak from the outer reaches of then Soviet Russia, with her Tuvan vocal histrionics and deep Eurasian soul, that pushed this band of louts over the edge. Sure, the humor and crazy percussion elements are still there, and the angular horn lines washing into the seamless strings, but this wouldn't be the MCO if these weren't present. Yet, on three long selections, the MCO plays with a certain restraint it had never attempted before. Not out to punish the vocalist in the same way Julie Tippetts had been a few years earlier, here they allow Namchylak's natural power and beauty to surface and shape the atmospheres, giving them nuance before they turn chaotic. The result is simply a stunning amalgam of out jazz, classical overtone singing, and orchestral improvisation that packs a slightly shambolic wallop. This is a set by the MCO not to be missed.

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