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Monday, August 16, 2021

Sputnik Trio - What The Hate (Raw Tonk, 2021) ****

By Stef Gijssels

In 2014, Ricardo Tejero on alto, Marco Serrato on bass and Borja Díaz on percussion launched their Sputnik Trio, with a second album in 2016 - "Live Betrayal" and now in 2021 we get their third release in 7 years. Not very productive at first sight ... but the three musicians have been active in various ensembles and solo efforts. 

Tejero is best known for his collaborations with the Dominic Lash Quartet and with drummer Vasco Trilla.  Serrato and Díaz have collaborated on several albums that we reviewed, producing very dark and ominous music with "Orthodox",  on the more violent "Arconte", as members of the "Hidden Forces Trio". Marco Serrato has released several solo bass albums, some of which we reviewed over the years. 

Their Sputnik Trio with Tejero's alto has a different approach: it is free jazz with an edge. The highly energetic trio of the first track starts to deconstruct the music on the second, with more sonic fragments colliding against each other. After the deep and forward moving flow of the first piece, the trio seems to get stuck in the second improvisation, as if they have to fight their way forward, and in my opinion the effect is even stronger, especially when the alto brings some relief or resolution near the end. The third piece, "A Call For Eric" has an interesting yet strange rhythm section, that keeps the pace throughout without too many changes, allowing Tejero to dance along on his alto, equally without too many changes either, moving along with the flow like a paper boat in a brook. "Mongrel Cry" presents a fragmented stubborn environment, in which the sounds move forward haltingly and with some level of desperation. 

The long last track - "Time Hunters" - starts with a long bowed piece on bass. It is of a different nature. The bass and percussion create a totally dark and gloomy atmosphere, with Tejero stretching his trembling notes as long as possible, adding layers of human anguish on top of the strange surroundings. I think this last piece really sets the trio's sound apart from other free jazz endeavours, and maybe something to further develop. 

The Spanish avant-garde jazz universe is limited compared to the size of the country, but this trio is definitely a strong part of it. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp.

Watch them perform some years ago