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David Sanchez: Vibes Old and New

David Sanchez

Saxophonist David Sanchez’s bilingual skills are not limited to speech. At age 29 this Puerto Riqueno is one of the finest young practitioners of his instrument in the jazz ranks, yet he is an equally skilled navigator in the warm waters of Latin music-specifically Latin jazz-as well. And if you don’t think those are separate skills, witness the fact that even the great Charlie Parker was a bit tripped up upon his initial encounters with Latin rhythms, and his compadre Dizzy Gillespie required the good counsel of Machito, Mario Bauza and Chano Pozo before even he mastered the vast Latin American rhythmic palette. Befitting the lineage and skills of his current band-John Benitez on bass, Edsel Gomez on piano, Adam Cruz on drums and Bernell Saturnino on percussion, augmented by Richie Flores’ percussion-David’s new release Obsesión, his fourth issue for Columbia, is a celebration of Latin American standards, with one Stateside ringer, Ray Bryant’s “Cuban Fantasy.”

“[Obsesión] is a completely different vibe,” Sanchez explained during our conversation, “It’s the first time I did something with music I grew up with: rhythms from Puerto Rico mainly, bomba, plena; some stuff from Brazil, batucada, partido alto; and of course the Cuban influence is in there, but mainly Puerto Rico and Brazil. I always wanted to do a Latin American standards recording, not just from Puerto Rico but in general. In Latin America these songs are very popular: ‘Lamento Borincano’ is like a second anthem in Puerto Rico; ‘Omorro Nao Tem Vez’ is a song that everybody knows,” Sanchez enthused. In addition to the tight, highly communicative nature of David’s band, there is a lush quality to the recording, owed in no small measure to the orchestrations of Argentine arranger Carlos Franzetti, who leavened the sound with string quartet and woodwinds. “Carlos Franzetti used to have a group called Orquestra Nova and they would deal with that type of orchestration; and on top of that he knows Brazilian orchestration and things like that.”

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Originally Published

Willard Jenkins

Willard Jenkins has covered jazz artists, performances, and the jazz infrastructure since his early-’70s undergrad days writing for The Black Watch student newspaper at Kent State University. Additionally, he has been a jazz broadcaster since 1973— currently programming at WPFW in Washington, D.C.—and a jazz concerts and festivals presenter since 1978. He currently serves as artistic director of the DC Jazz Festival and artistic director of jazz programming at Tribeca Performing Arts Center (NYC). A founding member of the Jazz Journalists Association, he is also a recipient of its Lifetime Achievement award.