[JPL] Hybrid Music From a Hybrid Ensemble
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 25 12:29:33 EDT 2007
October 22, 2007
Music Review| David Sánchez
Hybrid Music From a Hybrid Ensemble
By NATE CHINEN
"La Leyenda del Cañaveral," the long-form composition
he unveiled on Wednesday night at Zankel Hall,
concerns itself with the movement of slaves from
Africa to the Caribbean, and the resulting hybrid
culture; the title means "The Legend of the Cane
Plantation." As performed by Mr. Sánchez with a
sextet, it was potent and impressive, though perhaps
not always in the ways intended.
The suitelike piece, which had its premiere in Mr.
Sánchez's native Puerto Rico this spring, extends a
theme he originally tapped for his album "Melaza,"
released on Columbia in 2000. What prompted him to
pick it up again was a poem of the same name written
by one of his sisters, Margarita Sánchez de León. "The
cadence of the poem was really strong," he said from
the stage, adding that he had used that cadence as a
This sounded promising, but when the Puerto Rican
rapper SieteNueve joined the ensemble to recite
"Melaza," at the beginning and end of the suite, he
came across as an interloper. The poem's text a
terse incantation, arresting and entirely unsubtle
served essentially the same purpose as the melodic
head in a bebop tune.
Whatever shortcomings this indicated were redeemed by
the music. Just after the first recitation ended, the
band spiraled up into a 10/8 ostinato, and the
guitarist Lage Lund ventured one of the evening's best
solos. His approach was inquisitive, a meeting of
artful hesitation with fluid technique. And he
developed an arc with his improvisation, calmly
driving the rhythm section toward a boiling point.
Mr. Sánchez, taking the next solo, started quietly,
over a decelerated groove. He has become a connoisseur
of tone on the tenor, and here he made it sound
gemlike and clear. The drummer Henry Cole exercised
rigorous control behind him, pushing the tempo while
careful not to overwhelm. Eventually, inevitably, both
Mr. Sánchez and Mr. Cole were bashing at peak levels,
and skirting the edge of control.
Holding everything together was a fiercely
concentrated band dynamic. And here was the unspoken
point about migration and its positive aftereffect.
While Mr. Sánchez and Mr. Cole hail from Puerto Rico,
Mr. Lund comes from Norway. The bassist Hans
Glawischnig is Austrian, the percussionist Pernell
Saturnino is from Curaçao and the pianist Robert
Rodríguez was born of Cuban heritage in New York.
Under the direction of Mr. Sánchez, these cultural
distinctions were transcended even as they were
absorbed. The sound of the group fulfilled a polyglot
ideal, and in a way that didn't feel belabored. When
Mr. Sánchez trusted that sound most, his music
The David Sánchez Group performs on Friday at the
Firefly Club in Ann Arbor, Mich., and on Saturday and
Sunday at Andys Jazz Club in Chicago.
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
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