Mexico-born drummer Antonio Sanchez, 37, uses his broad range of musical instruction and an enviable cast of musicians to create a compelling solo debut with Migration. His studies include those at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City, the New England Conservatory, and Berklee. His musicians are Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, saxophonists Chris Potter and David Sanchez, and bassist Scott Colley.
Corea jumpstarts the CD with his lengthy composition “One for Antonio,” which includes the pianist’s signature chording, soloing and tempo shifts in a trio setting. Colley gets a middle solo, and Sanchez’s energized drumming is a catalyst throughout.
Metheny’s ballad “Arena (Sand),” by contrast, is underscored by the drummer alternating between mallets and drumsticks. The guitarist and both saxophonists take compelling solos, and Metheny also plays an invigorating closing duet with Sanchez, Miles Davis’ “Solar.” The two have had a musical kinship since Metheny hired Sanchez to play on his 2003 Grammy-winning CD Speaking of Now. The drummer later appeared on saxophonist Michael Brecker’s 2004 Grammy winner, Wide Angles.
Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” also gets an inspired workout, and Sanchez’s originals likewise feature himself, the bassist and both saxophonists, a quartet purposely composed without a chordal instrument to create space. “Did You Get It?” burns through saxophone dialogue and the creative trades between Colley and Sanchez. “Challenge Within” showcases Sanchez’s four-limbed dexterity through his percussive intro and its 10/8 time signature.
But it’s the slower, more spacious numbers—the suite-like “Greedy Silence” and “Ballade,” a trio number with Colley and Potter on soprano sax—that best show Sanchez’s compositional skills and ever-musical free-drumming expertise. The disc is dedicated to the memory of Brecker, who would certainly be proud.