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Sued / Nandayapa / Bergmann / Saunders: Mad Dream

Sued / Nandayapa / Bergmann / Saunders: Mad Dream
Mad Dream is the fourth release by Sued Nandayapa Bergmann Saunders, a far-flung ensemble with geographic roots in North, South and Central America, plus Europe. Natalio Sued, an Argentinian saxophonist, Andrew Bergmann, a bassist from Massachusetts and Gustavo Nandayapa, a Mexican drummer, met in Holland, while studying at the Amsterdam Conservatory. Bruce Saunders, a New York, Boston and Austin-based guitarist who teaches at Berklee College of Music and University of Texas at Austin, joined up with Bergmann in Texas, where the latter now serves as an assistant professor of music with San Antonio's University of the Incarnate Word. Their first encounter as a quartet came in 2018.

The band's previous release, While It Lasts (Ropeadope Sur, 2022), was, as they wincingly worded it in the press materials, "somehow completely crafted" during the Covid lockdown, via distance recording and email threads. Mad Dream finds them again able to partake in the pleasures of live performance and—the sine qua non of jazz practice—to improvise together. All members of the group are strong players, but the project emphasizes the ensemble, the collective rather than the individual. A palpable sense of release permeates the program, which was recorded on the road during a tour across Texas in 2022. The album opens with a free improvisation leading into Nandayapa's "El Alsalto." The head, an atonal rubato unison melody with no fixed harmonic structure, played by saxophone and guitar, floats above an independently churning ametric rhythmic foundation supplied by bass and drums. Liberation is imprinted at the outset.

The musical language is predominantly post-tonal and post-bop. In Sued's "Mad Dream," the album's standout title cut, the structures seem to press onward rather than turning around, an effect that is amplified in the travelogue-style official video which accompanies the tune (see the YouTube at the bottom of this page). The journey begins with a melancholic melody and chord changes in a slow metrical time, followed by a saxophone solo over its 15-bar form. Time and tune begin to fragment and fall apart toward the end of the saxophone solo and the bass interlude that follows, while drums almost seamlessly introduce a faster tempo and saxophone re-enters under the invigorated groove. By the third segment, when all parts are fully invested in the new feel, a second melody—a denser cousin of the opening line and its changes—comes in solidly. By the time the guitar takes flight over the 16-bar form, the mood has lightened appreciably and there is no turning back.

Like "El Asalto," Sued's "Green Glass"—another album highlight—emerges out of the anarchy of a free improvisation, moving through a phase in which the pitches of the melodic lines to follow are revealed, albeit out of time. When the composition finally jumps into focus, with all parts fully formed and interacting in their rhythmic setting, the effect is freeing, and that liberation makes the music dance. Mad Dream is a lively offering from an excellent ensemble of resourceful, inventive and compatible musicians. Well worth a listen.

Track Listing

El Asalto; Mad Dream; Dorme Bebê; Green Glass; Dottore.


Album information

Title: Mad Dream | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Ropeadope



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