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David Sanchez: A Candid Look at Music and Business, Part 1 of 2

By Published: November 1, 2004

AAJ: Yeah. It gives a different timbre. Alto and tenor.

DS: Exactly. It was just a new idea that I had.

AAJ: Switching topics. Going back a few years. I have this record. It's a Ryan Kisor date on Columbia called On the One. Do you remember that record?

DS: {Jaw drops} Yeah. Wow. That's a long time ago.

AAJ: Yeah. I just picked it up. It's absolutely killin'. Chris Potter on alto...

DS: Mark Turner on tenor, Christian McBride on bass...Yeah, yeah I remember {smiles).

AAJ: This is before you guys were big. What was it like to make that record? Did you know all those cats before the recording session?

DS: I knew Mulgrew [Miller]. Actually I knew the whole rhythm section. Why? Because we had been working together on the Philip Morris Superband tour. Mulgrew I knew from another place. Lewis [Nash], Ryan and Chris - Christian McBride too was on that record. Wow. So yeah I knew those guys already. We had been on tour together for two months I think. I've been around.

You know people see me in concert and they think...'Hmm this guy is a new cat. He's a young guy.' But you know I've been around for a while now. Part of it is that I have a "baby face," so people think I'm younger than I am. I'm 35. And that brings me to the question of why I'm changing paths and trying to do different things. know...I have been pretty consistent in the concept I'm trying to bring. It's one thing. Whether you like it or not - it is what it is. But as I get older and time goes by, you wanna be doing different kinds of things.

I was working with a lot of originals on Melaza and Travesía. But then as time goes by I want to be working on different things. Like the Coral project - it's really about focusing on simplicity - aside from my originals - but specifically with the other songs I found that it was very simple -simple material and it was short pieces. I wanted to just change them around a little bit and be able to create something new while focusing on playing with beauty and simplicity.

AAJ: Those melodies are so lush with the strings.

DS: Yeah...and perhaps working with Charlie Haden gave me that other side. And it's really beautiful. In jazz I hear a lot. Part of that is this other side in the music. I didn't do this record because 'Oh look at me. I can do all this stuff.' No. I did this record because I actually admire and appreciate that other feel - more subtle; something that's not being able to come up with 300,000 notes.

AAJ: Which a lot of people out there know you for.

I want to switch topics now. You came here from the Blue Note as I understand it. What was going on there?

DS: This was a special project. It was paying tribute to the great Coleman Hawkins. As you know this year is the centenary.

AAJ: Right. In your last interview on AAJ, three years ago with R.J. DeLuke (see David Sanchez and His Universe , November 2001), you were talking about how you were only recently getting into the older guys. You said early on you had influences on the saxophone including Coltrane and Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon, but you really hadn't gotten to those older cats. And a lot of people haven't heard this music. It all happened and the records are there, it's just people want to only listen to other stuff or what's in the present.

DS: Yeah. When you go back to that period in time, there's a lot of information there. It's pretty unbelievable what these guys were doing in the late 20s, and the 30s and 40s - all before bebop. And also, I must say the preparation they had was very high. I mean some of these guys - like Coleman Hawkins - this guy played cello, he was very knowledgeable in harmony, he knew the structures. He went to a conservatory in Europe. When he came back to the States, he was looking at music in a whole different way. It's very advanced. And it's extremely important if you're a saxophonist. I mean if you're one of the younger guys today, it happened to me too, you start out checking Coltrane and then you start checking out [more recent] guys - guys who maybe, perhaps you shouldn't start checking. That's the way it goes. It was all there all the time and I didn't realize it.

You mentioned sound, harmonic direction - he was actually another guy that was changing all the time also. He was never happy with just speaking to one thing all the time. He was trying this and that. It was a great experience to do this show at the Blue Note. I couldn't do the weekend because I had this and then from here I'm going to L.A. I had to cut it short. So I did the first half of the week, but that's great because it was the masters - the older guys like Frank Wess, Jimmy Heath, David "Fathead" Newman, and then also newer guys like me and James Carter (also trumpet player Terrell Stafford).

AAJ: Did James Carter do his crazy thing?

DS: Yeah, no. Well you know, James is gonna do his thing, man. Actually, this particular project - it's his thing. He is very influenced by this particular period of time - this music. Not only Coleman Hawkins, but a lot of Chu Berry, and Lester Young. And then through those guys, there are the guys that he's really been influenced by, like Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis etcetera. But you know it was a great experience exactly because of that. There was so many cats there and every guy has his own unique voice. We were talking about this in the dressing room last night. It's amazing that all these players with the same instrument, have completely different voices.

And that's another thing I have to say to the younger generation. Perhaps when you don't check as much of the spectrum, and the different ways of playing music, all of a sudden your concept is compressed and everything kind of sounds similar. I'm talking about sounds now. I'm talking stylistically. You can see it. You can hear it. Today, it's almost like a factory - almost generic. Not because it's bad, but it's compressed. Maybe it's because they're just checking out one or two things.

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