Larry Ochs / Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core

The Neon Truth

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Inspired by Asian and African forms, Larry Ochs calls his sax and double-drum trio "Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core," and the minimal and unusual instrumentation is an effective vehicle for his intense improvisations. Known for his riveting work as a member of the avant-garde jazz group What We Live and the saxophone quartet Rova, Ochs' thick tone, overblowing, and forceful delivery evidence a relentless search for a sort of transcendental ecstasy fueled by the powerful strains of the drums. The saxophonist effortlessly navigates not-so-familiar terrain for the full length of The Neon Truth with varied emotions, and while most of the pieces evidence the sort of incendiary fire that usually characterizes his playing, there are exceptions, such as the introspective and equally compelling "Xanic Rides Again." The two drummers are virtually indistinguishable, never tripping on one another, and the limited palette is surprisingly turned on its face so that the group sounds like a bigger unit, in part the result of the saxophonist's endless stream of creative thrusts. While each composition might appear totally improvised, Ochs stresses in his liners that the trio is, at least in part, following a script, with "simple but not-usual rules and processes." While fans of Ochs may not find his playing here much different than elsewhere, the new instrumentation gives it a new perspective that succeeds in carving a small but exciting niche.

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