You can find another one, definitely more objective, point of view on Catherine's album Jersey from my fellow contributors at the free jazz blogspot here.
A solo recording can be a wonderfullly frightening experience. It certainly has the urgency of coming to terms with your own needs and demands of expression. No one is restraining you, be as free as you you want.
On the other hand, the only real feedback you get is your own thoughts, ideas and ambivalent reactions towards your practice. Those can be a frustrating procedure. Self doubt lurks around every corner. This is then - the solo recording - the way to test yourself and try to overcome, at least some, your fears. And stay true.
It's no coincedence that the solo sax recording has followed, so closely, improvisation's trajectory. With numerous solo recordings from great practicians of the instrument (also a lot of women thankfully), many new paths have been opened in many ways of playing and presenting new material.
As i make my way through the day after another night of restless sleep, it must be of no coincedence that i was eager, at last, to write about this album. On the liner notes of this cd (another fine release of Relative Pitch records) there's a photo of someone's note, a neighbour, who, having listened a lot of Catherine Sikora's rehearsals, is thanking her about the experience.
I feel the same way. Jersey has the ability to furl around you and warm you. While i personally love the timbre of the tenor saxophone, i understand that it takes much more to make it sound like that. Having played a little bit of wind instruments myself, there's always this intimate connection with them. You are attached with it, you breath into it, it's like a lover and a comrade to any direction you want to go. And believe or not, the image of a man or a woman blowing through a saxophone is exhilaratingly erotic for me.
Certainly Evan Parker tells it like it is in the liner notes ( one more reason to buy this cd by the way...) and i strongly agree - if i may- that this is a recording looking both ways through time: one way towards the past and, certainly into the future. Having no technical knowledge about the tenor sax, sometimes i feel it has by nature a rough and down to earth sound. Well, it might, but this down-to-earthness of Jersey is by no means an accident. It reflects Sikora's ideas and feelings.
Don't ask me about notes and phrases. I want to tell you about feelings, ideas and energy. Ok there are melodies, spontaneous ones, but most importantly there is a general feeling of urgency by someone who wishes to express herself in humble but rich and sentimental way.
Finally i strongly agree with Paul Acquaro's remark in free jazz blogspot. You are under-recorded Catherine, go ahead and give us more.
1. Why make a solo album instead of any kind of collaboration? Was it a need for a personal statement?
Making a solo record was a natural progression for me. I have been playing solo concerts for several years now, and I included some solo tracks on my recording Clockwork Mercury. I love playing solo, and I find that because it is so challenging it really makes me grow as a musician, but truthfully the real motivation is that solo records and concerts are by far my favorite to listen to.
2. Relative Pitch is in my opinion one of the most important labels in improvisation right now. How was this production realised?
I agree with you, Relative Pitch is a fantastic label, and is doing very important work. I had spoken with Kevin Reilly about making a solo record, and he said that he would release it on Relative Pitch. I recorded the album myself at home, and my husband Eric Mingus mixed it. Kevin arranged for the mastering of the recording, and took it from there.
3. Do you live by your music?
As well as playing I teach quite a lot, mostly online lessons at the moment, which works wonderfully well. Teaching gives me so much, I stay connected to a sense of wonder through my students; the excitement when a person discovers something new, or gains a new understanding of something that they found difficult, is tremendously rewarding to me, and it informs my practice and keeps me focused.
4. In his recent - really worth reading -book the sax improvisor Jack Wright claimed that improvisation is a way to work and not necessarily a way to live or trancend your ideas. Do you agree?
Jack Wright is a formidable player, and I must get myself a copy of the book. Without having read it I really can't comment.
5. Do you place yourself within the expanded tradiiton of jazz as a free improvisational idiom?
My work is most definitely coming out of the expanded tradition of jazz, and I consider myself a free jazz/ avant jazz musician, not a free improviser. Additionally, it is important to note that I do not only work in free jazz settings. I work with composers, (notably Enrique Haneine), and I am always open to more such opportunities. Last month I was in Kassel, Germany for two weeks working with Ursel Schlicht as part of her SonicExchange quintet. This group, which consists of Ursel on piano, Stephanie Griffin on viola, Hilliard Greene on bass and Andrew Drury on drums, as well as myself on tenor and soprano saxes, plays free jazz, but we also work with pieces written by each member of the group. I find this to be very enriching and it enhances the communication and understanding within the group.
6. Do your goals as a human being identify with those as a musician? Is the philosophical pursuit of happiness something that motivates you as an artist as well?
I can't see how I would separate my goals as a human being from those as a musician—everything is inextricably connected. The philosophical pursuit of happiness in and of itself is not something I can say is purely a motivation to me as an artist, but of course playing and writing, even when it is very challenging, is enormously rewarding to me so the end result is happiness...the fact that I am following a career as an artist, choosing to do something that I love, is I suppose the pursuit of happiness in a larger way.