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David Sanchez and His Universe

By Published: March 1, 2004
AAJ: You were in Dizzy's United Nations Orchestra?

DS: Well, I did some gigs for them, but I was really playing for the sextet thing that Dizzy had, but I did some gigs, as well, with the United Nations Orchestra. Many of them.

AAJ: Dizzy was one of your big mentors.

DS: No doubt about that. He took me under his wing and he was patient, what can I tell you? And he taught me a lot. I got a lot of stuff from him. No doubt about that.

AAJ: he was one of the first to blend Latin rhythms with jazz.

DS: That's right. That's one of the things directly I learned from him. Not only Latin. His music, the way he heard music, was always universal. The vibe was completely different. People know him more for his jazz work and the stuff he did with Charlie Parker, but this kind of artist, they transcend and go beyond labels of music. And the music becomes to be world music, you know? That's something I took, and still do in one way or the other, for Dizzy's vision, the way he heard music.

AAJ: Being with him opened doors professionally?

DS: Yeah. Once I started playing with him, I got a lot of calls for straight ahead (jazz), Different people started talking about record deals. I was playing with Dizzy, so record company guys started checking out the gigs. That's how everything happened.

AAJ: Any other big influences around that time?

DS: Oh yeah. Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Miles Davis. On my own instrument, I have been checking out more and more Coleman Hawkins as time goes by. LesterYoung, Ben Webster and Jimmy Forrest. As time goes by, I've been checking more of the core of the history of the instrument. And having all these other influences as well. It's a plus having all this stuff from Latin America, which is incredibly wide, and big, vast. So I got all of that. It takes a minute to digest, but little by little, you hear it more and more and more.

AAJ: What kind of sound do you like to go for in your music as you develop.

DS: Well, I want it to sound universal. I want to bring all of the experiences that I have had as a human being and bring them onto the bandstand or into the recording studio. That's basically my concept. I want to bring all of those experiences of my life, musical experiences, and musical experiences in general, and bring them and you can hear them. When I used to hear a lot of flamenco, when I used to hear a lot of bomba plena from Puerto Rico, when I used to hear a lot of Brazilian music. Blues stuff. Mainstream jazz, which has been one of my main, heavy musical influences. You can hear all of that. At the same time you hear my sound on top of that. That's what I'm still working on. It's a process, which basically does not stop. You hear some more and more and more and you add a little more from the next year, thinking of something different. Hearing something different. That's the way it goes.

AAJ: Do you ever get the feeling, with a lot of the older ones going - Sonny Rollins is maybe one of the last from the old days — that people like you, Josh Redman, James Carter, are having to carry on?

DS: I don't think too much about that. That's hard to carry on. If you start getting to closed to that, then you fall into some other stuff. But Sonny Rollins is definitely one the reasons why I play what I play, because of his percussive way of playing that evidently makes sense with my percussive way of playing, because of the fact that I used to play percussion. And also his sound. It's still my main influence. If I'm carrying on anything, I would say I'm just trying to gain as much as I can, in terms of different influences, so I can have something to offer; a different vision, a different perspective, to give to the people.

AAJ: What does the future look like, for you younger guys in jazz?

DS: I think jazz is here to stay. It's just going to have different periods. That's the reality of how it's going to be for a while. It's never going to be a pop music. It's never gonna be like that. It's going to have its down moments, a little up moments. But it's always going to be here because it's so strong. It will be here forever. It basically crossed. It's beyond. It's stamped, already. How long has it been? They can say anything they want.. Maybe it doesn't have the same sales (as pop) and is not for the general audience, what they hear. But any time they want to recreate or present what America is all about, jazz is in there. America got formed and was built when jazz was happening and jazz was developing. So it's the symbol. It's a synonymous thing. Whenever you talk about what America is, it's synonymous with jazz. So it's going to be here forever; for a good long time.

AAJ: Are you doing much composing?

DS: Yeah. Always. I always write stuff. Maybe not to use it now, but maybe to use it in a couple years, you know? Or maybe it's going to be for a different project. Anytime I sit down at the piano, I'm always thinking, in the back of my head, ideas.

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