The Squid's Ear Magazine

Interstellar Nao Quartet (Countryman / Castanon / Cano / Lauber): Odisea (FMR)

A wild odyssey in collective free jazz referencing the 16th century trade ships "La Nao de la China" from four players improvising in the studio in Mexico City for three extended, energetic exchanges of acoustic and electric excitement, from Philippine-based alto saxophonist Rick Countryman, Jalisco guitarist Juan Castanon, and Mexican bassist & drummer Itzam Cano & Gabriel Lauber.

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Juan Castanon-guitar

Rick Countryman-alto saxophone

Itzam Cano-acoustic bass

Gabriel Lauber-drums

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Label: FMR
Catalog ID: FMR679
Squidco Product Code: 34275

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: UK
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded at Sismo Studio, Mexico City, Mexico, on March 9th, 2023, by Luis Chino Ortega.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Guitarist Juan Castañón would travel from Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico, near Guadalajara to Mexico City, 6- 8 hours by car. Saxophonist Rick Countryman flew 11,000 kilometers, from the Philippines. Both drummer Gabriel Lauber and bassist Itzam Cano also live outside CDMX, and drove for several hours each to the studio. The Odisea, or Odyssey in English, continues the live work of 2022 at Sismo Studio in Mexico City March 9, 2023.

The first recording, 4tet (FMR Records), gives clear indications of where this music goes: high energy exchanges, deeply connected while riding free expression from all four artists. This studio outing maintains the same all in and all out vibe of the live sessions, and presents a true measure of this quartet's artistic capabilities.

For hundreds of years, Spanish ships sailed the Pacific Ocean, traveling between Acapulco in the Americas and Manila in The Philippines. The track titles reference the ships making this odyssey voyage.

The longest operating ships, the Galeón de Manila, were also called La Nao de la China, and began sailing the waters between Acapulco and Manila in the 1500s. This is also the inspiration for the group name Interstellar Nao.

The Espíritu Santo crashed on the island of Cantanduanes; the sailors drowned or were killed by natives of the Philippine Island. The Sacra Familia also traveled to Acapulco from Manila in 1700s."-Interstellar Nao

Artist Biographies

"Juan Castañón (1980) Mexican guitarrist improviser.

He began at age of 13 as a self-taught musician playing popular mexican music on accordion with various bands in northern México.

He became interested in jazz guitar and improvisation at 18 and performed in his hometown Monterrey. He moved to Italy at 23, and studied with guitarist Marco Accqarelli at Università della Musica in Rome. He got into improvised music scene after meeting Marco Colonna and Bruno Angeloni with whom he toured and made various recordings.

Mainly interested in music where the improvisation plays an important role, his musical range extends and blends traditions as Mexican music, jazz, improvised music and rock.

He studied classical northern Indian music and the Indian instrument known as the Sarod with Maestro Michael Robbins. in 2015, he recorded the album "SARODYA" with the percussionist Alvaro Rubio on tablas.

Juan Castañón has released more than a dozen recordings under Mexican and European record labels, as well as digital distribution original productions.

He has toured around Mexico performing at jazz, and world music festivals, and played in Cuba, Italy, Spain. He has lead various projects for the past 10 years such as Impromuzak Ensemble, D/zazter trío, Acasia trío and Faena Monk.

He has collaborated, performed and recorded alongside many musicians and artists as Marco Eneidi, Bruno Angeloni, Dennis Gonzalez, Marco Colonna, Tatzuya Nakatani, Steffen Roth, Gianni Lenoci, Marcello Magliocchi, Don Malfon, Gabriel Lauber, and many more."

-Improvisors Without Borders (

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"Rick Countryman (January 31, 1957) is an American jazz saxophonist and flautist.

After years attracting little attention as a baritone saxophone player, including an extended sabbatical, Rick made a late-life change to alto sax, at the urging of bassist, Simon Tan. His first recorded session with Simon and Christian Bucher, avant garde drummer from Switzerland, attracted the attention of French label "Improvising Beings" and was released as "Acceptance - Resistance". The recordings received many positive reviews, both in the United States and Europe.

Rick currently now has 9 releases on 4 labels across Europe, Asia, and the United States, including multiple CDs with Japanese improvisational drummer, Sabu Toyozumi, who has made several trips to Manila to perform and record. The music continues to receive positive reviews and airplay. Two recordings were listed in "Gold Dolphy 2018".

Since 2011, Rick has been an active member of the Manila jazz scene. He leads and performs in ensembles on baritone saxophone, alto saxophone, alto flute and bass flute; performing original compositions, as well as free jazz/improvisation, in his own jazz quartets and trios. His style is heavily influenced by Eric Dolphy, Sonny Simmons and the 60s Free Jazz movement. He was a student of Bert Wilson, and considers Michael Bisio and Rick Mandyck early mentors."

-Wikipedia (

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"Itzam Cano (born in Mexico City, Mexico) is a Mexican jazz double bassist.

He studied ethnomusicology at the Escuela Nacional de Música from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). He studied electric bass and contrabass and the development of improvisation, jazz theory, and harmony.

In late 2005, he joined free jazz ensemble Zero Point. In September 2006, Zero Point participated in the Japanese New Music Festival (Tatsuya Yoshida, Makoto Kawabata y Atsushi Tsuyama), at Multiforo Alicia in Mexico City. By 2007, Zero Point released its first digital album for Ayler Records.

He has worked with Elliot Levin, Marco Eneidi, Dennis, Stefan y Aarón Gonzales, Dave Dove, Shelley Hirsch, Scott Forrey, Milo Tamez, Tom Corona, Lawrence Williams, and Generación Espontánea.

Since 2004 he has performed at the Ollin Jazz Tlalpan Internacional, Festival de Improvisación Libre, Free Jazz y Noise "Cha'ak'ab Paaxil" (with sede in Mérida, Yucatán), Festival Internacional de las Americas in La Habana, Cúba and in festivals in cities like Puebla, Guadalajara, and Zacatecas.

He has been a member of the bands Antimateria, Zero Point, Claude Lawrence trío and has been part of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Puebla and the Orquesta de Percutoris from the Escuela Nacional de Música at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (ENM-UNAM)."

-Wikipedia (

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"Originally from Zermatt in the canton Valais, Switzerland. At an early age, he was initiated into free jazz by his father, the architect Peter Lauber, listening to improvisations by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Gato Barbieri and Albert Ayler. During elementary school he studied piano for a few years. In 1989 he began to learn drums with his first teacher Reinhard Fürbringer until 1994.

From 1993 to 1997, he studied at the Musikhochschule Luzern, Abteilung Jazz (School of Jazz in Lucerne) with Fabian Kuratli. Attend master classes with Christy Doran and Peter Kowald. Later, he relocated to the city of Zürich to study with Pierre Favre from 1997 to 1999 who was his last teacher. In 2000, he made a trip to various cities and towns in Mexico. Shortly after, he returned to Zürich, at which time he decided to leave Europe and settle on the outskirts of Tepoztlán, making Mexico his home as of 2001.

SuckySucky BoomBoom, is the first ensemble he formed in 2003, accompanied by the German programmer-musician, Pit Noack, the Japanese bassist Kei Onishi and the Mexican singer Jhony of the gore-grind ensemble Oxidised Razor.

Julio Clavijo (Mandorla), joins SuckySucky BoomBoom, when Pit Noack returns to Germany. The ensemble performed twice at the Massacre Fest in Mexico City and at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM) - Xochimilco.

In December 2003, Germán Bringas and Gabriel Lauber met and began to work together. For the year 2004, they organize an ensemble in the company of Julio Clavijo: Zero Point. For the following year, the trio performed at the Café Jazzorca, Hexen Café, the Tlalpan Jazz Festival, the Museum of Mexico City, the Anahuacalli Museum, Multiforo Alicia, among others. In addition to recording two independent productions released under Lauber's record label: Dimensional Recordings. In the fall of 2005, Julio Clavijo decided to venture into other projects. That's when the double bass player Itzam Canois invited to collaborate with Zero Point. Also this year, Gabriel Lauber formed Dimensional Recordings and Dimensional Productions, during which time he met and collaborated with Remi Álvarez in some ensembles. The year 2006 is decisive for the direction that Zero Point would take, since in September they recorded what would be their first virtual album (DL-CD Download Only Release) at Ayler Records, a Swedish company specializing in free jazz in addition to participating in the Japanese New Music. Festival (Tatsuya Yoshida, Makoto Kawabata and Atsushi Tsuyama), organized by Kei Onishi, the Embassy of Japan in Mexico, Jazzorca Records and Dimensional Productions. Also in 2006, he formed together with Remi Álvarez and Itzam Cano, Antimatter. This same year he joined one more ensemble, Onslaught.

Currently it is part of the assemblies: Álvarez - Lauber Duo, Antimatter, Bringas - Lauber Duo & Zero Point. He has worked live with musicians such as Dennis, Stefan and Aarón González, Dave Dove, Uros Nedeljkovic, Hermann Bühler, Scott & Steven Forrey, Marcos Miranda, Martin High De Prime, Marco Eneidi, Mauricio Sotelo, Ángelo Moroni, Juan Pablo Villa, Hernan Hecht, Aarón Cruz, Carlos Alegre, among others."

-Wikipedia (

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Track Listing:

1. Espiritu Santo 12:02

2. Galeon De Manila 20:36

3. Sacra Familia 10:46

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Quartet Recordings
Mexico, Central & South Americas + Islands
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music

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