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Angelica Sanchez Quintet: Wires & Moss

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Blending through-composition and group improvisation is an increasingly common but still stubbornly tricky enterprise, like managing the aesthetics of a kite in flight. The composer labors to concoct this skeletal contraption, starts running with it, then at some point releases it to the muse and mercy of her ensemble’s collective flights of fancy, tugging down or releasing more string as the situation warrants.

Angelica Sanchez guides this process in a manner that produces a compelling wealth of textures and angles, often arrayed with uncommon lyrical beauty. It helps that drummer Tom Rainey and saxophonist-husband Tony Malaby have been playing her open-ended material (with Sanchez herself on piano) for nearly a decade, and that the remaining quintet members Drew Gress (bass) and Marc Ducret (guitar) have been around since 2008. That familiarity enables Sanchez to exploit the versatile virtues of the band-the way both Malaby and Ducret can drone, flit, lilt, bleat or skronk in unity or counterpoint, for example.

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