ANTONIO SANCHEZ, NEW LIFE

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The much-anticipated recording, New Life, (CAM Jazz) from the forceful and swinging drummer Antonio Sanchez delivers an expansive program rich in musical textures and a palpable group sound. Sanchez brings together an ensemble of peers (tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin and alto player David Binney, bassist Matt Brewer) and the insightful young British pianist John Escreet, an up and coming musician who infuses Sanchez's compositions with requisite drama and a lot of positivity. Sanchez, a three time Grammy® winner with two previous solo recordings, has been guitarist Pat Metheny's main collaborator over the last 13 years, which gives the drummer's originals a sweeping sense of storytelling -- the charts favor Binney and McCaslin playing in unison, providing a harmonious luster that reveals the power of Sanchez's compositions. The tunes take their time, most stretching beyond 8 minutes, which empower the musicians to freely explore the full range of their talents. 

The close association with Metheny (who also provides the liner notes) is evident on tracks like "Uprisings and Revolutions," originally a ballad that was rescaled by Sanchez in wake of the Arab Spring, and continues on "Minotauro" and "Medusa," two mythological inspired tunes with impressive structures. Escreet's Rhodes solo on the former is brilliantly nuanced and soulful. Sanchez also knows of writing music as an event. Like Metheny's work, the album's centerpiece is a majestic and melodious tour de force -- the title track "New Life" illustrates what a great composer can do when matched with equally attuned musicians who have the emotional intellect to fulfill Sanchez's vision. Vocalist Thana Alexa provides an aural counterpoint to the lustrous horns, blending and bending her voice to the propulsive steam from Sanchez's kit and there's a resounding joy in her range that lifts this tune way up. Sanchez allows the tune’s flow to calm midway through, where the glitter of Escreet's piano notes fall to a whisper to give way to a magisterial solo. Bassist Brewer shines as well, shepherding Sanchez's melody with a graceful sureness. Also noteworthy, "The Real McDaddy" inserts a choice bit of fun and funk into the playlist (this tune like the others were work-shopped at small venues like NYC's Bar 55, where I initially heard this band play prior to being recorded.) Sanchez is a remarkable drummer and the modernistic "New Life" is an inspiring and affirming effort that gives much on each successive listen. (8 tracks; 72:31 minutes) www.antoniosanchez.net

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JAZZ IN SPACE: ANTONIO SANCHEZ, NEW LIFE

Monday, February 25, 2013

ANTONIO SANCHEZ, NEW LIFE

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The much-anticipated recording, New Life, (CAM Jazz) from the forceful and swinging drummer Antonio Sanchez delivers an expansive program rich in musical textures and a palpable group sound. Sanchez brings together an ensemble of peers (tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin and alto player David Binney, bassist Matt Brewer) and the insightful young British pianist John Escreet, an up and coming musician who infuses Sanchez's compositions with requisite drama and a lot of positivity. Sanchez, a three time Grammy® winner with two previous solo recordings, has been guitarist Pat Metheny's main collaborator over the last 13 years, which gives the drummer's originals a sweeping sense of storytelling -- the charts favor Binney and McCaslin playing in unison, providing a harmonious luster that reveals the power of Sanchez's compositions. The tunes take their time, most stretching beyond 8 minutes, which empower the musicians to freely explore the full range of their talents. 

The close association with Metheny (who also provides the liner notes) is evident on tracks like "Uprisings and Revolutions," originally a ballad that was rescaled by Sanchez in wake of the Arab Spring, and continues on "Minotauro" and "Medusa," two mythological inspired tunes with impressive structures. Escreet's Rhodes solo on the former is brilliantly nuanced and soulful. Sanchez also knows of writing music as an event. Like Metheny's work, the album's centerpiece is a majestic and melodious tour de force -- the title track "New Life" illustrates what a great composer can do when matched with equally attuned musicians who have the emotional intellect to fulfill Sanchez's vision. Vocalist Thana Alexa provides an aural counterpoint to the lustrous horns, blending and bending her voice to the propulsive steam from Sanchez's kit and there's a resounding joy in her range that lifts this tune way up. Sanchez allows the tune’s flow to calm midway through, where the glitter of Escreet's piano notes fall to a whisper to give way to a magisterial solo. Bassist Brewer shines as well, shepherding Sanchez's melody with a graceful sureness. Also noteworthy, "The Real McDaddy" inserts a choice bit of fun and funk into the playlist (this tune like the others were work-shopped at small venues like NYC's Bar 55, where I initially heard this band play prior to being recorded.) Sanchez is a remarkable drummer and the modernistic "New Life" is an inspiring and affirming effort that gives much on each successive listen. (8 tracks; 72:31 minutes) www.antoniosanchez.net

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