Tenor saxophonist David Sanchez possesses the classic resume of a Latin jazz musician. He was born in Puerto Rico, educated by American masters of mainstream jazz and conscripted by Afro-Cuban stanchions Dizzy Gillespie and Eddie Palmieri. But what comes out of his horn these days bears more of his generation's ensign of contemporary post-bop; it sums up his lifelong absorption of folkloric music from throughout the African diaspora. Sanchez presented his universalist, modern approach live at the Village Vanguard, in a performance broadcast on air (and video-cast on the Web) by WBGO, as well as streamed online live (and archived) here at NPR Music.
Since he first emerged as a bandleader in the mid-'90s, Sanchez has been known as a spectacular saxophone technician. He gave a spirited exhibition of faculties on flowing ballads ("Pra Dizer Adeus," the New Orleans-inspired "The Forgotten Ones") and stylistically amorphous uptempo originals ("Ay Bendito," the new tune "City Sunrise"). Also on display was Sanchez's relatively new band — a quartet featuring Norwegian guitarist Lage Lund. The Norwegian musician warmly replaced the chordal and soloing contributions of many of Sanchez's previous piano players with the spacious yet tactful buzz of his hollow-body electric guitar. Drummer Henry Cole, also a Puerto Rican, and English bassist Orlando LeFleming were key contributors to 2008's Cultural Survival, Sanchez's first album to feature this instrumentation.
Sanchez has listened intently to Caribbean, South American and African music for many years — he grew up a percussionist, and only began listening to jazz as a 15-year-old. He would go on to study jazz in the New York area, at Rutgers University, where his talent caught the attention of the legendary Dizzy Gillespie. Working in Gillespie's big band during its final years opened many doors for Sanchez, and by 1994, he'd issued his first album.
After 10 years of being supported by a major record label, including 2004's Latin Grammy-winning Coral, Sanchez moved to Atlanta, where he'd been quietly honing the ideas on Cultural Survival. His appearance at the Village Vanguard was his first in some time, but Sanchez is not an uncommon stage presence in New York; he still tours frequently, and recently was unveiled as one of the musicians spotlighted in a multimedia ad campaign for clothing retailer Banana Republic.
- "City Sunrise"
- "Pra Dizer Adeus" (E. Lobo)
- "Ay Bendito"
- "The Forgotten Ones"
- "Cultural Survival"
- David Sanchez, tenor saxophone
- Lage Lund, guitar
- Orlando LeFleming, bass
- Henry Cole, drums
- Josh Jackson, producer and host
- David Tallacksen, mix engineer
- Josh Webb, recording assistant