GRAMMY AWARD-WINNER DAVID SÁNCHEZ IS RECOGNIZED AROUND THE WORLD AS ONE OF THE FINEST SAXOPHONISTS OF HIS GENERATION.
His mastery of the instrument is undeniable and his sound unmistakable. Combine that with Sánchez’s deep-seated knowledge of both Jazz and Latin music, and the traditions that mold them, and the results are extraordinary.
In a review, world-renown jazz writer and critic Howard Reich saluted the bandleader saying, “Sánchez’s prowess on saxophone is matched by the intellectual depth of his concept and compositions.” Reich has also noted “Technically, tonally and creatively, he seems to have it all. Recordings such as “The Departure” (1994), “Sketches of Dreams” (1995), “Obsesion” (1998) and “Cultural Survival” (2008) showed Sánchez merging jazz syntax with the musical dialects of his native Puerto Rico and other Caribbean and Latin American sources.”
The influences of Puerto Rican folkloric music can be clearly heard on “Street Scenes” (1996), his debut album on Sony/Columbia. Strains of Bomba and Plena are also evident on “Obsesion” (1998) and “Melaza” (2000) both produced by the great saxophonist Branford Marsalis, as well as “Travesía” (2001), Sánchez’s first entirely self- produced recording.
It was another recording, “Coral, ” that would earn David his fifth GRAMMY® Award nomination and his first Latin Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Album in 2005. “Coral” features orchestrations and arrangements by prolific Argentine composer Carlos Franzetti wit h the City of Prague Philharmonic. The album showcases compositions by Villa-Lobos, Jobim, Ginastera, Francetti and Sánchez. All Music.com observes “Sánchez is poised to take his place among the great jazz musicians that continue to offer important personal and musical insights to their audience.” “Coral” is a necessity for any jazz or classical record collection.”
“Cultural Survival,” David’s 2008 debut on Concord Records, earned the artist his sixth GRAMMY® Award nomination. Mr. Sanchez was also the recipient of Chamber Music America’s (CMA) New Jazz Works grant. The prestigious commission was for the creation of “La Leyenda Del Cañaveral,” an extended composition inspired by a poem paying tribute to those who slaved in Puerto Rico’s sugar cane fields.
That critically acclaimed endeavor was followed by 2011’s “Ninety Miles Project.” Sánchez joined forces with Stefon Harris and Christian Scott for the successful album and documentary film. Both were recorded in Havana and featured not only the three bandleaders but also some of Cuba’s finest musicians. Jazz Times music writer Michael J. West noted, “The saxophonist is the real star: He’s exquisite on “The Forgotten Ones,” a ballad duet with Harris, and provides romance on “This Too” and dark intrigue on the album’s one new tune, “Paradise Found.” The project would later become The Ninety Miles Band, where Harris and Sánchez would further develop their unique musical partnership.
Sánchez continues to tour the world as a bandleader, bringing his mix of mainstream jazz with Afro-Latin influences to audiences around the globe. At the same time, he is also a member of The SFJazz Collective, an all-star octet representing the SFJazz organization.
The Collective has been one of the most prolific ensembles of the last decade. It’s known for its stellar musicians, groundbreaking compositions and innovative takes on the music of some of the world’s most influential artists.
Sánchez’s unique musical sensibility can be traced to his home, Puerto Rico, where he began playing percussion and drums at age 8. He migrated to tenor saxophone a few years later. While a student at the prestigious La Escuela Libre de Música in San Juan, he took up the flute, clarinet as well as soprano saxophone with teachers Angel Marrero and Leslie López. The Bomba and Plena rhythms of his homeland, along with Cuban, Caribbean and Brazilian traditions, were the biggest influence on Sanchez’s early taste in music. But soon jazz masters such as Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, and John Coltrane would command his ear and his imagination. “Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson all have also been major influences. Of course, and many, many others.”
In 1988 Sánchez auditioned for and won a music scholarship at Rutgers University. He says, “Having the opportunity to study with masters such as Kenny Barron, Ted Dunbar, Larry Ridley among others, was a true blessing.” He was soon immersed in New York’s swirling Jazz scene and was quickly recruited to tour with piano giant and mentor Eddie Palmieri. He also performed with Hilton Ruiz and Claudio Roditi, who brought Sánchez to the attention of Jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie. In 1991, Gillespie invited the young saxophonist to join his “Live the Future” tour with Miriam Makeba. Later having the opportunity to be a part of Gillespie’s recording, “Live At The Blue Note.”
Sánchez has also performed and recorded with Jazz Master and mentor, Kenny Barron (album “The Spirit Song”), Roy Haynes (album “Praise”), Charlie Haden (album “Nocturne”), Roy Hargrove (Album “Crisol”), Pat Metheny, Lalo Schiffrin, Danilo Perez, Tom Harrell, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Kenny Werner, and had the opportunity to perform with the legendary drummer Elvin Jones.
David Sánchez is also “Maestro Sánchez” to students at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. In a decade of teaching, he has proven to be a compelling presence with student musicians and is in demand for workshops and master classes in Puerto Rico and beyond. Sánchez’s passion for teaching and sharing his art with up and coming musicians is palpable. ” It gives me such tremendous joy. I see so much talent out there. I am very optimistic, and I look forward to the future of music.”
In addition to his position as Artist in Residence at the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico, Sánchez has taught master classes in Brazil, at the Peabody Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Indiana University’s School of Music, Stanford University, University of Memphis, Emory University and completed a year-long residency at Georgia State University. Such work, he says, “gives me great satisfaction. At the same time, it’s a real challenge, and you end up learning so much yourself. You give, but you receive too.”
Recently Sánchez and band presented the new work, “Carib” at the Tapia Theater in San Juan, Puerto Rico. According to Sanchez, it is the first in a series of recordings that will explore the affinities of Puerto Rican rhythms with expressions of other Caribbean nations, in this case Haiti.
Stay tuned to jazzdelapena.com for information as it becomes available.