The Spanish Sputnik Trio is considered one of the most lasting working bands in the Spanish free jazz and improvisation scene. The trio – Madrid-based alto sax player Ricardo Tejero with Seville-based double bass player Marco Serrato and drummer Borja Díaz, was formed in 2013 after Tejero returned for a long stay in London where he collaborated with such innovative improvisers like Eddie Prévost, Dominic Lash, Steve Noble and the London Improvisers Orchestra. Serrato and Díaz have been playing together for more than 15 years in different groups in local groups.
Time Hunt is the fourth album of the trio, which has also recorded two albums as a quartet with British sax player Colin Webster. The album was recorded at La Mina Estudios in Seville in February 2020. The trio opts now for a less urgent, less aggressive and less apocalyptic approach and on Time Hunt structured compositions embrace the post-bop legacy serves as a springboard for the blend of emotional lyricism, open improvisations that are rooted in powerful swinging patterns.
Time Hunt proves that the new approach fits perfectly this resourceful trio. Sputnik Trio likes to build its power and intensity patiently but with tight dynamics, as demonstrated in the opening «Bird of Prey» where the soaring sax of Tejero is pushed by the percolating rhythm section of Serrato and Díaz, but ends with a fragile, mournful sax cries. «Will Be Back» is a playful song that relies on the hypnotic, repetitive pattern of Serrato, who plays the double bass arco and pizzicato, and the exotic angular Middle-Eastern theme, articulated by Tejero. Serrato and Díaz dictate a powerful blues shuffle on «Headless Walk» that sends Tejero to soar freely. The brief «Tar or Cox» is the most ‘out’ piece here, but balances between Serrato’s Jimmy Garrison-esque strummed bass line, the free drumming of Diaz and the incantatory sax lines of Tejero. It all ends with the almost hymnlike «Three Times Ura», bringing the listener gently down to earth. This impressive, thoughtful and openly emotional album ends with the ritualist, hymn-like singing of «Three Times Ura». And like, Phil Freeman concluded in his liner notes, that trio speaks the language of free jazz but understands that it’s not always necessary to scream and shout.
Ricardo Tejero (as), Marco Serrato (b), Borja Díaz (dr)