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David Sanchez: Ninety-Mile Bridge

By Published: August 29, 2011
"Tomorrow, if there's only one category for jazz it means you're going to have to look at the whole picture, and not put aside a jazz recording that has a flamenco influence, or Afro-Caribbean or Brazilian. If there are no separate categories, then you have to look at instrumental music. I'd be delighted if the day came when they recognized a recording that has no vocals, but that is recognized as a beautiful piece of art. Why couldn't [saxophonist] Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
's Highlife (Polygram Records, 1995) be voted best record of the year period, regardless of category? For me, that was a beautiful masterpiece. Do we have to have vocals to understand music? Does the sound not make any sense if it has no words?"

The reaction to Ninety Miles has been very positive so far and with a documentary on the recording set for release and further live dates to come too, the music clearly has a momentum. Some people however, have missed the point. "There are a few people who take it as a political statement, and it's really not at all; I really want that to be clear. It's not a political statement at all. It's the opposite of politics because politics haven't gotten us anywhere. Here in the States we can't seem to take care of people's basic needs because of politics, so politics is clearly not the answer. But we keep following the same patterns so in a way it's our own fault. People are into the music and so far so good. We believe in moving human relations forward."

There have been some signs of late of a relaxing of state control in Cuba, and in parallel, President Obama has broken with half a century of entrenched US policy by announcing an easing of travel restrictions on the million-plus Cuban-Americans who wish to visit relatives in Cuba. Cautious changes yes, but changes nevertheless. Of more import perhaps, is the arrival of high-speed internet in Cuba; thanks to an underwater fiber-optic cable linking the island to Venezuela, 1,600 kilometers away, Cubans will inevitably deepen relations with their United States neighbors, a mere ninety miles away—and the rest of the world to boot.

Instant internet access to jazz of any color will surely begin to make itself felt in a new generation of Cuban jazz musicians, and in a small way—as David Sánchez advocates—move human relations forward. The common language spoken on Ninety Miles is a powerful and beautiful advertisement for music's ability to not only overcome difference, but to positively celebrate it.

Selected Discography

Stefon Harris/David Sánchez/Christian Scott, Ninety Miles (Concord Picante, 2011)
David Sánchez, Cultural Survival (Concord Picante, 2008)
David Sánchez, Coral (Sony, 2004)
David Sánchez, Travesia (Sony, 2002)
David Sánchez, Melaza (Sony, 2000)
David Sánchez, Obsesion (Colombia Records, 1998)
Roy Hargrove, Habana (Verve, 1997)
David Sánchez, Street Scenes (Sony, 1996)
David Sánchez, Sketches of Dreams (Sony, 1995)
David Sánchez, The Departure (Sony, 1994)

Photo Credits
Page 1: Hans Speekenbrink
Page 2: Carlyle V. Smith
Pages 3, 5: Courtesy of Concord Music Group
Page 4, Harold López-Nussa: Roberto Ruiz
Page 4, David Sánchez: Goio Villanueva

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