Antonio Sanchez's 'Lines In The Sand' Is Inspired By Migrants' Stories Drummer and composer Antonio Sanchez's album, Lines In The Sand, is a cinematic homage to the journeys of migrants heading to the U.S. border. It's a formidable, epic series of compositions.
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Antonio Sanchez's 'Lines In The Sand' Is Inspired By Migrants' Stories

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Antonio Sanchez's 'Lines In The Sand' Is Inspired By Migrants' Stories

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Music Reviews

Antonio Sanchez's 'Lines In The Sand' Is Inspired By Migrants' Stories

Antonio Sanchez's 'Lines In The Sand' Is Inspired By Migrants' Stories

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Drummer and composer Antonio Sanchez's album, Lines In The Sand, is a cinematic homage to the journeys of migrants heading to the U.S. border. It's a formidable, epic series of compositions.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The debate over the border wall and immigration policy has reached, of all places, the jazz world.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANTONIO SANCHEZ'S "TRAVESIA INTRO")

KELLY: Today, the drummer and composer Antonio Sanchez is releasing a dramatic new album inspired by the stories of migrants arriving at the U.S. southern border. Sanchez was born in Mexico and is also a U.S. citizen. He's perhaps best known for his unusual solo drum set score of the 2014 movie "Birdman." Our reviewer, Tom Moon, says you can find that same cinematic flair on his new project called "Lines In The Sand."

TOM MOON, BYLINE: The album begins with commotion on the street, sirens, shouting voices, immigration enforcement officers in action.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Officer, this is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: This is going national, guys.

MOON: The album ends 70 minutes later with a reading by Mexican-American poet and activist Jonathan Mendoza.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANTONIO SANCHEZ'S "LINES IN THE SAND (PART 1 AND 2)")

JONATHAN MENDOZA: I pledge allegiance to my abuello, to the callouses on his Sierra Mountain hands, to the guitar he'd hold through the desert, strapped to his back like a weapon. I pledge allegiance to the music we make from our survival.

MOON: It's a recent immigrant's conflicted take on the Pledge of Allegiance, and it's as close as Antonio Sanchez gets to protest music. He uses these spoken word passages to frame sprawling, sometimes epic original compositions meant to honor the journeys and the dreams of immigrants.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANTONIO SANCHEZ'S "LINES IN THE SAND (PART 1 AND 2)")

MENDOZA: I pledge allegiance not to the border, but to my father's rusted car, not to the exodus, but to the knapsack on my great grandfather's belt, not to genocide...

MOON: Along the way, there's some ripping virtuosity from the five members of Sanchez's band, which is aptly named Migration.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANTONIO SANCHEZ'S "BAD HOMBRES Y MUJERES")

MOON: And there are vivid soft-to-loud contrasts. As a composer, Sanchez thinks in terms of long arcs. Two pieces here last longer than 20 minutes, and both feature moments of storm-clouds-gathering tension like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANTONIO SANCHEZ'S "TRAVESIA (PART 1 TO 3)")

MOON: These develop slowly and eventually surge into big, splashy melodies.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANTONIO SANCHEZ'S "TRAVESIA (PART 1 TO 3)")

MOON: Sanchez is 47 years old. He studied classical music growing up and came to the U.S. in 1993 to attend Berklee in Boston. He immediately found himself in demand. He's performed with Chick Corea and other jazz stars and has played for years with guitar master Pat Metheny. You can hear Metheny's influence on this album in the windblown, wordless vocal melodies Sanchez uses here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANTONIO SANCHEZ'S "LINES IN THE SAND (PART 1 AND 2)")

MOON: It's always tricky when a composer of instrumental music claims a work is about a specific subject, especially a hot-button issue like immigration. Antonio Sanchez understands that. He says that, like many, he was incensed by the scenes of family separation at the border, yet he avoids expressions of anger or outrage. Instead, these fluid, fast-changing pieces focus on the life-altering journeys themselves, evoking the spirit and determination necessary to make them.

KELLY: The latest by Antonio Sanchez is "Lines In The Sand." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

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