With six and one-half minutes remaining in this single thirty-eight minute live tenor saxophone/drums recording, an audience member at a club in Berlin begins howling. Listeners to this recording will probably be saying to themselves, "where have you been? I've been shouting encouragement since I pressed play!" It's that kind of record.
The two Parisians, tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler and drummer Antonin Gerbal work regularly in Zoor with guitarist Jean-Sébastien Mariage, and as a pair released Le Ring (Confront, 2016) with Axel Dorner. Sbatax finds the duo in sharp contrast with their very quiet, almost minimalist duo session Heretofore (Umlaut Records, 2015).
From the first snare drum strike, they take no prisoners à la John Coltrane and Rashied Ali, and for the entire album they go toe-to-toe as if this were a tag team wrestling match. Gerbal is in constant motion here, more Hamid Drake than Ali, and more Billy Higgins than Sunny Murray. His performance is the accelerant for Denzler's tenor exploits, who drops whole notes then pushes his horn to the brink, working the edges of overblown intensity. It is not until the halfway point that Denzler pauses for the drum solo. Which of course is not a solo at all, but a continuation of Gerbal's attack. As the pair drive on to the conclusion (and the shouting patrons) the musicians, and by now the listeners, must wring the water out of their sweat-soaked garments.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.