Pablo Sáez

Pablo Sáez, “Surensemble” (as Leader)


DEUTSCH: “Surensemble” ist das Crossover-Ethno-Jazz Projekt von Pablo Sáez. Als “Surensemble” versteht sich eine ganz besondere Zusammensetzung der Musik: Es handelt sich um Jazz, Folk und Kammermusik zusammen. Eine Mixtur, die sich in viele Richtungen der improvisierten Musik orientiert. Das Crossover Project beinhaltet auch eigene Kompositionen und Arrangements für zwei Gitarristen von Komponisten wie Heitor Villa-Lobos und Astor Piazzolla. Das Resultat diese ganze Elemente ist ein spannender Modern- Jazz mit starken, afroamerikanischen Wurzeln und dabei stets weit entfernt von alle Klichés des latin- oder afrokubanischen Jazz. Die Band bringt frische Luft, Improvisationsfreude und interessantes Studienmaterial für alle Musikwissenschaftler. Das Werk vermischt mehrere Kunstformen und bildet dennoch eine ganz spezifische Welt von mannigfaltigen Abläufen, voller überbordender Energie und Augenblicke voller Humor. Als Kontrast dazu entstehen Momente voller Ruhe, die im Gegensatz zum aggressiven Denken der rhythmischen Zellen stehen.



“The songs on this record are part of a series of compositions that I didn’t want to just leave in the pages of our songbook. My bandmates, João, André, Alvaro, Pablo and I have been playing together for years in different groups, working on the development of what we call “South American Jazz”. It’s an extremely underground trend in Europe at the moment, but more musicians are appearing each year. The experimental process of this particular production involved many different types of (formal) musical notation. A lot of them aren’t exactly related to North American Jazz, but instead to baroque and contemporary classical music.  The blending of these different notation styles opens up an entirely new perspective that an experienced musician can deconstruct in many different ways. A single piece, for example, can blend Arnold Schönberg with John Cage, while another can bring together Agustin Barrios and Steve Reich. In this rereading of notes that exist only in the fleeting moments when they are played, fantastic things can happen. The unique phrasing of each musician is what makes such moments unreproducible.

The fact that we have matured, musically speaking, in Germany has undoubtedly influenced the way we make music, but it doesn’t mean that we want to make European music. Our search for new improvisational structures is thanks to the way the contemporary Jazz movement has, in 2017, taken on very diverse and extreme new directions. Latin American music is not exempt from this cultural shift. Indeed, it continues to mutate and morph into new figures and styles that we have attempted to capture on this record. ” Pablo Sáez




I want to thank my whole family, who are involved in every note of this album. My father Raúl for giving me this amazing present for my life: music. My mother Flor, for helping me in being much more perseverant and much more detailed in whatever it is.  Thank you Mónica for influencing me during my childhood with such great music. My sister and brothers Daniela, Alejandro, Andrés, Diego and of course my new nephews.

João, André, Pablo and Alvaro, thank you for being such good friends and for all these years of fighting together trying to raise our Jazz. It has been a joy for me to work with such dedicated and talented colleagues. And of course thanks to you, Marta, for your sweet bowing on „Arrullo“.

To the Folkwang University of  Arts  for making this project a reality. Thank you, Arthur Jogerst, Michael Bishop and Walter Quintus for lending your ears, my sincere appreciation for the outstanding sound, thank you for trusting me and believing in this project.

Thanks to my music teachers Peter Herborn, Toly Ramirez, Carlos Figueroa López, Thomas Alkier and Sperie Caras for their commitment and patience in every hour we spent together. Thanks to ALLÁ and Daniel Orejuela for keeping on doing South American music, supporting this work and helping us in the distribution of this music. Your contribution is indispensable for developing art.

Thanks to Anette Herrmann, Juan Salazar, Luis Llorente, Fabrizio Fabio Silvestri, Daniel Hurtado, Francisco Concha-Goldschmidt, Uwe Paals, Henriette Henrichs, Dorothee Kamp, Luis Cruz, Melody Awua, Edwin Abbett, Jorge Arzola and all who helped me in the logistics, in writing words and developing concepts.

My special thanks and all my love to Francisca and Maximiliano, without you this work would have never been realized.



The purpose of this text is merely to provide the listener with the context of the underlying ideas behind these compositions. It is quite uncommon for us to speak about the background or motivation behind a composition, especially when there is no text attached. This is why I think it is necessary, for music lovers who are interested in learning where inspiration comes from, to share a couple of ideas regarding this record. Before we get into it, I’d like to say add that Surensemble is the fruit of everything I’ve learned at home, over thousands of kilometres of travel, from experience arranging other people’s music, and the beginning of a new stage in my life.

Surensemble is an eight track record divided into four Songs and four Mantras. For a long time I wasn’t interested in writing songs; I went through a stage of creative denial. In the constant search for innovation in sound and style, you naturally distance yourself from certain formats. This record, then, is something of a reunion with the old forms. The sonata, the lied, the prelude, the fantasia once again fascinated me for their purity, their simplicity. With these melodies ringing in my ears, the instrumentation came, if not in parallel, immediately after. The most immediate result for the musician is happiness – that you don’t always have to struggle to extract what is on the sheet, and have more freedom to concentrate on the interpretation itself.

On the other hand, the Mantra as a way of making music has expanded throughout South America and is now very popular in the region. It is an ancient way of seeking out one’s centre. Musicians who have made use of repetition in the Western style, such as J.S. Bach, Erik Satie, John Cage or Miles Davis, all have their roots in tribal, aboriginal and religious music. This series of compositions is, of course, based on our own ancestral heritage and is highly religious in its content; however, I would like to make it clear that within the context of this artistic journey, I don’t mean to refer to religion at all, but rather to the Latin “relegere”. The verb “legere” has a number of meanings that interest me from a musical perspective. For example, let us look at some interpretations ranging from the ancient, with Marcus Tullius Cicero, to the present, with Jacques Derrida: 1) To read (a written text) 2) To collect or gather (food, knowledge etc.) 3) To listen (to gather with the ear) 4) To choose and to read out loud (something to someone).

So, with this theoretical framework, I only needed to choose a good motif to repeat, interpret and reinterpret. The motif I chose was 108. The number 108 as a motif is the beginning and end in this serial composition.  Some of the ideas behind this particular number come from astronomy and Hinduism. For those who weren’t aware, for example: “The distance between the Earth and the Sun is approximately 108 times the Sun’s diameter”, “The diameter of the Sun is approximately 108 times the Earth’s diameter”. “The distance between the Earth and the Moon is approximately 108 times the Moon’s diameter”. For the ‘yogis’, a solar year is divided into 27 equal parts. Each one of them is subdivided into four equal sectors called ‘padas’ or steps, which mark the 108 steps that the Sun and the Moon take across the sky. It is not important if this facts are treu or not. I´m intrested in the structures. I have tried to place with this ideas record in space and time and to give it a homogenous shape. It is the result of a patient, loving process and of the unconditional support of my colleagues and family. Surensemble means “subset” in French. Just as the number 108 is the set and subset of these compositions, we are also part of many musical projects that are being developed right now in Europe and that are driving South American music forward. This record presents not just the Quintet, but also consecutive subsets like a quartet, trio, duo and free passages for solo instruments. Finally, I have put a special focus on the guitars, main instrument and pitch axis like we usually do in many of our Latin-American music pieces.