How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
With Coral , explosive tenor saxophonist David Sanchez records with a symphony orchestra, playing Carlos Franzetti arrangements of "Latin classical" pieces by composers as diverse as Villa-Lobos and Jobim. Alongside the plush strings, Sanchez has banked his fires a bit, but he does take some typically vigorous workouts here.
Sanchez continues to develop and refine a personal sound and style. He's always played exciting music, but his sound has gotten lighter, more transparent, and he's become more lyrical. His lyricism stands out on these performances, as on "Punambi," where he is wrapped in a lovely Franzetti arrangement, or on the title tune, a Villa-Lobos composition in which the strings become a bit cloying but the tenor man rises above them. The orchestra sound is always pretty, but it's those overly lush, albeit intermittent moments that keep this album from soaring consistently.
Yet despite its occaisional inconsistencies, Coral offers much good listening. When the extraordinary young alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon joins the ensemble, the music reaches the levels of intensity we've come to expect from Sanchez. The two saxophonists really burn on "The Elements II," and Sanchez is in top form on "Archipelago," which closes the album in fine style. The tenor man also takes a well-paced, typically excellent, improvisation on "Matita Pere."
In addition, Coral benefits from a tight, together rhythm section. Pianist Edsel Gomez takes several inventive solos and is strong in the section. The bassists and percussionists are also noteworthy.
In 2000, Sanchez recorded Melaza , which also featured Zenon and is one of Sanchez's strongest albums. It was a relentlessly intense recording that codified Sanchez's style and approach to Latin jazz. Coral represents something different for Sanchez in both scope and intent. While it doesn't always reach the inspired heights of Melaza , Coral is a lot more than just David Sanchez with strings. It represents the continuing growth of a dynamic talent.
Track Listing: Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar, Matita Pere, Vidala, Coral, Punambi, The Elements II, Vexilla Regis, Cancion Del Canaveral, Archipelago.
Personnel: David Sanchez, tenor saxophone; Miguel Zenon, alto saxophone; Edsel Gomez, piano; Ben Street or John Benitez, bass; Adam Cruz, drums; Pernell Saturnino, percussion; City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.