Juan Saiz Trio ‘Dr. BOBÔ’ CD (Karonte) 4/5

Juan Saiz Trio’s Dr. BOBÔ project is an extension of the collaborative work of fellow Cantabrians; flautist/saxophonist Juan Saiz and percussionist Pedro Terán serving as what appears to be an outlet for their fusion, electronic and experimental explorations. The duo is joined by Antony da Cruz on electric bass.

The album starts with “Obertura Dr. Bobô”, its slow bluesy grandeur combines full-throated saxophone with very busy percussion. There’s a Middle Eastern flavour to the concise sax playing in “El Impostor” underpinned by the repetitive but punchy bass line. The bass is also the solid foundation for the slow burner, “Egeo: Conflictos XY”. The slinky slide bass line stays rigidly on course while percussion and flute interconnect, exploring the space. Later there’s a neat drum solo and the fretless, chorus affected bass solo hints at a Jacolyte. “El Falso Amor” is an uptempo sax and drum attack, smoothed with bass chords and a slight walk on the wild side in the last few bars.

The abstract but mesmerising, “No Me Dejéis Solo”, uses electric and electronic effects such as delay and feedback. Angular riffing from flute on “Urgrund, El Abismo Sin Fondo” cuts through the rock-ist rhythm of disciplined drums and crunchy bass. Sparse percussion and reverberated flute adorn the first half of “El Koko”. The intervention of bass harmonics and chords builds forward momentum to the melodic flute conclusion as the group unusually goes for pretty. On the closer, “Bebê (La Sangre Continua)”, flutey meandering gives in to the hard-hitting beats and frantic walking bass whilst sax maintains grace under pressure

The album is enjoyable though much of the music here doesn’t really have the feel of a trio. There is a lot of sax/flute and percussion explorations with the bass almost as colour; another sonic texture. Without intending to dismiss the exuberant and precise contributions of da Cruz, it seems clear that the foundations of most of these tracks is built on a rapport between Saiz and Terán, probably from earlier work. If you understand that the music here does not absolutely follow rhythm section convention, you may find you’ll succumb to the charms of the doctor. Quirky and captivating.

Kevin Ward