Vladimir Tolkachev (b. 17 June 1951, Serov, Sverdolvsk, Russia; reeds/percussion), Yuri Yukechev (b. 1954, Western Ukraine; piano/percussion). Based in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Homo Liber grew out of a trio formed in the 70s by Tolkachev, drummer Sergey Belichenko and bass player Sergey Panasenko. In 1980 Yukechev joined the group, but within a few years Homo Liber had settled into a duo of Tolkachev and Yukechev, although their first recording, Siberian 4, smuggled out of the USSR and released in Europe and the USA by Leo Records, comprised one side by the quartet and one by the duo. The music’s cool spaciousness and haunting beauty won critical acclaim around the world and was later voted one of the top 50 albums of the 80s by Wire magazine. A second release followed on Leo, plus three tracks on the label’s eight-CD compilation Document, but recordings and biographical facts remain scarce. Tolkachev cites only Messaien and fellow-Sverdolvsk saxophonist Vladimir Chekasin as influences. He began to play music at the age of 12, studied accordion at the local music institute and took up the saxophone in 1969. In the early 70s he moved to the Siberian industrial centre of Novosibirsk and became involved in the contemporary jazz scene at the neighbouring ‘university’ town of Akademgorodok. He currently works in an orchestra. Playing music is, for him, ‘an opportunity to go beyond the limits of everyday experience, to exist in another world’. Yukechev studied piano at Lutsk (1960-65) and composition at the Leningrad Conservatoire (1965-70). In addition to his improvisations in Homo Liber, he is a full-time classical composer, whose works include a piano trio, a cantata for choir, a concerto for violin and 18 brass and wind instruments and an opera, The Legend Of The People Of Taiga. Though active in their home region, Homo Liber have rarely toured or played at festivals.
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