«Gersau» Liner Notes
Three years after the release of their first joint album «Songbook», Peter A. Schmid and Jerry Rojas produce the second result of their many years of cooperation. And in many respects this cooperation has become even more prolific; the duo became a trio when percussionist Ivan Manzanilla joined the triumvirate. On the new album the effortlessness and the playful aplomb with which the musicians play is shown to particular advantage. Ivan Manzanilla has given the already successful formation fresh impetus - and has at the same time broadened their spectrum. Schmid-Rojas-Manzanilla (SRM), as they call themselves now, sound more sophisticated and well attuned than the duo has done. However, they retained the strengths that have characterized Rojas and Schmid for some time.
Originally, their acquaintanceship goes back to when they played football together. And as in football, team play is everything in jazz. Their objective is to play more serenely; to act less intellectually but more intuitively and energetically instead. This can, as with short passing games and automatisms in football, only result from the successful application and the joint experiences. Particularly in the interplay it is obvious that Rojas and Schmid have made impressive progress. Schmid's clarinet and Rojas' guitar licks are in a profound, increasingly closer and suspense-packed musical exchange to the point that the ear requires a few seconds to assimilate the sounds.
A tangible aspect to which the trio might owe the new verve is in the origin: Rojas originally comes from Colombia and Manzanilla from Mexico. A seasoned Swiss brass player, who contributes the earthy sound, blends well into this combination. Peter A. Schmid in turn shares his background in improvised music with the percussionist. Rojas on the other hand comes from the rock guitar of the seventies, but he has also acquired a broader musical scope in the meantime.
The songs on the current record were composed by Schmid and Rojas, but Manzanilla's compositions will be added in future. When listening to the new material, one can clearly hear that the musicians worked hard on the sound, on their individual as well as on their common style. And this is what I find surprising about this album: the entirely natural and for the listener sensuous interchange and interplay of Rojas' guitar and Schmid's clarinet as well as the taragot. And Manzanilla's percussion basis adds additional colour to this sound.
Despite the fact that the album «Gersau» was named after a place in the heart of Central Switzerland, is has to be said just for the record that this band is more successful internationally than in Switzerland and is frequently invited to perform abroad, particularly in France. We can look forward to hearing how the trail that SRM have blazed will be further honed. The best way to find out is to visit one of the upcoming concerts.