The Spanish jazz scene continues to propagate, and is to the point now that it is self-sufficient in its creation of top rate artists. Not only are there younger players coming up, but the established veterans are maintaining an impressive output of new material. Sumrrá falls into the latter category, and with its release of 5 Journeys, displays why they are consistently one of the best jazz ensembles in the Iberian Peninsula.
Celebrating fifteen years as a working band, on this release Summrá pays homage to seven cities in three continents that have welcomed them throughout their trajectory. Sticking with their proven piano trio format of Manuel Gutierrez on piano, Xacobe Martinez Antelo on bass, and drummer LAR Legido, this date, recorded live at Santiago de Compostela, Spain, validates the native sons bringing it back home.
They begin in Bulgaria with "Sofía," an undulating extended piece that continues to rise as the piano soars with chordal progressions, giving space for bass improvisations and accented drumming finale. "Paris," is lightened up as one strolls through the City of Light, in search of a piano bar opened all night. Then it's down to South Africa with "Johannesbourg," delving into numinous rhythmic variations with drummer Legido adding flairs into Antelo's bass lines.
They travel closer to home in "Braga," a city in Portugal, enveloped in romanticism amidst the Cantabrian Mountains. This clearly demonstrates pianist Gutierrez's complete dominance over a brisk cadence, offering a blistering solo. "Santa Cruz," commences with percussive syncopation as they dwell into the mysteries of Bolivia, again revisited in "La Paz," a tender ballad with superb interplay of piano and bass. They return to South Africa with the closing "Pretoria," ending with an upbeat race to the finish.
Having played together for fifteen years breeds familiarity and presents challenging dynamics as the trio continues to push the envelope with their distinctive and innovative repertoire. Sumrrá has built its reputation on its hard hitting stage performances of power jazz, done in an acoustic setting. They drive each other in a relentless fashion and the music is catapulted forward in rolling waves of sound. 5 Journeys is as close as one can envision to catching them live.
Sofía; Paris; Johannesbourg; Braga; Santa Cruz; La Paz; Pretoria.
Manuel Gutierrez: piano; Xacobe Martinez Antelo: bass; LAR Legido: