SBATAX is the duo of Swiss-French tenor sax player Denzler and French drummer Antonin Gerbal (known for his part in Pat Thomas’ [Ahmed] أحمد and in the Umlaut Big Band) who have been working together since 2011. Spires is already their fourth album together (three as a duo, and another one, Le Ring, Confront 2016, with German trumpeter Axel Dörner), but the duo also worked with other bands and projects such as Zoor, Onceim (l’Orchestre de Nouvelles Créations, Expérimentations et Improvisation Musicales), Horns+, CCP3 or Protocluster. The album was recorded at Curved Pitch studio in Saint-Ouen, France, in June 2022.
SBATAX’ dynamics are physical and explosive, intense and immediate, and made of repetitive rhythmic patterns of the raw and furious sax onslaughts of Denzler locked and driven by the manic drumming Gerbal with sudden and brief, playful eruptions. The SBATAX duo performs with subtle motific variations but with little space and no time to stop and reflect on the restless and massive sonic pouring. Gradually, this powerful flow of music accumulates towards uncompromising waves where movement becomes a texture that floats in the wind and threatens to wipe out any spires-like architectures but never loses its focus.
The two extended, the title piece and «Azimuths» exhaust this kind of uncompromising, fiery and stormy dynamics, but do not seek cathartic conclusions.
Bertrand Denzler (ts), Antonin Gerbal (dr)