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Artist Spotlight: Antonio Sánchez

This top-flight drummer scored the soundtrack for 2014's Birdman

Antonio Sanchez, jazz drummer and film composer
Antonio Sánchez (photo: Andrea Boccalini)

Five-time Grammy Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Antonio Sánchez is considered by many critics and musicians alike as one of the most prominent drummers of his generation, and that was before he caught the attention of the world with his score for Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s acclaimed film Birdman.

Born in Mexico City on November 1, 1971, he started playing drums at the age of five and began performing professionally early in his teens. He pursued a degree in classical piano at the National Conservatory in Mexico and in 1993 he moved to Boston to enroll at Berklee College of Music. He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Jazz Studies. He’s made New York City his home since 1999.

After moving to New York, Sánchez became one of the most sought-after drummers in the international jazz scene. He has performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in jazz including Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Charlie Haden, Gary Burton, and Toots Thielemans. In 2007 he recorded his first solo effort, Migration.

In 2014, his original soundtrack for Birdman was released, earning Sánchez a nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Original Score and BAFTA Award for Best Film Music. He won the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Score and Satellite Award for Best Original Score that year. It was disqualified from being submitted for an Oscar nod, however, due to rules concerning the use of pre-existing classical music on the soundtrack.

Antonio Sánchez & Migration Band: “Nardis” – Live at Blue Note Milano

Sánchez then released two albums in 2015: Three Times Three and The Meridian Suite. Both showcased his virtuosity as a drummer, composer, and creative musical thinker. Bad Hombre was released in 2017. The album has been described as a suite of fervent solo drumming improvisations infused with surreal electronic textures, creating potent and volcanic modes of self-expression.

His latest album, Lines in the Sand, was released in 2019 and pays homage to the migrants heading to the United States border. 

Antonio Sánchez & Migration Band: “Medusa” (live)

Also an educator, he has traveled around the globe performing at clinics, drum festivals, and master classes. Some of these festivals include the Modern Drummer Festival Weekend, Zildjian Day, and the Montreal Drum Festival. Sánchez joined the faculty at New York University in 2006.

He’s endorsed by Yamaha drums, Zildjian cymbals and sticks (Sánchez’s signature model), Evans drumheads and LP Percussion (which carries Sánchez’s signature percussion kit).

 Antonio Sánchez – Creative Soloing & Freedom – Full Drum Lesson


More on Antonio Sánchez from JazzTimes

Before & After with Antonio Sanchez

Antonio Sanchez: Immigrant Songs

Antonio Sanchez: The Conquering Hero

Antonio Sanchez’s Birdsong

Antonio Sanchez: Three Times Three

Antonio Sanchez: New Life

Antonio Sánchez: Channels of Energy

More on Antonio Sánchez from Around the Web

Drummer Antonio Sanchez Brings Migration, and Tales of a Family Legacy, to Our Studio – WBGO

Song You Need to Know: Antonio Sanchez, ‘Bad Hombres y Mujeres’ – Rolling Stone

Antonio Sanchez’s ‘Lines In The Sand’ Is Inspired By Migrants’ Stories – NPR