Puerto Rican Saxophonist David Sanchez belongs to the most prolific jazz musicians of the past twenty to thirty years. Not that the quality of his output suffers from the frequency of publications. Beyond his own highly praised recordings, he is recognized for his contributions to groups led by the likes of Kenny Barron, Pat Metheny and late Roy Hargrove, to name only a few. Grammy nominated for a variety of different projects and having won the Latin Grammy in the category of best instrumental album for 2005's Coral (Sony), Sanchez has nothing left to prove. He dives into projects that are close to his heart. Carib is such a project. In light of a new series of recordings that is set out to rediscover various Afro musical traditions throughout the Americas, this album finds Sanchez combining the musical traditions of Puerto Rico and Haiti with modern jazz language.
The two different musical approaches are found assigned to two different musical sub-groups: The rhythmic section, largely represented by Obed Calvaire on drums, Jhan Lee Aponte on percussion and bomba barril as well as Martin Schwartz on Haitian percussion; and then the melodic / harmonic tier, in which the leader himself is supported by Lage Lund on guitar and Luis Perdomo on piano and Fender Rhodes. Bassman Ricky Rodgriguez builds a bridge between the two divisions. Some of the melodic language does channel a Caribbean flavor as well, but the bop tradition is by far the most prominent point Lund and Sanchez have in common and in which, together, they thrive. Opener "Morning Mist" sees Sanchez taking a good portion of the intensely rhythmic jam for a well-constructed solo to which the final crescendo recalls the composure and language of his peer Joshua Redman.
While the rhythmic interplay on percussion lends the set of tunes an exciting angle and flawlessly accompanies some pieces like "Morning Mist" and "Iwa (the spirit going back home)," others tend to feel overcrowded by the constant syncopated banging from at least two sides. But Sanchez seems aware of the effect this energy might have on the listener and inserts quiet meditations into the mix: "Fernando's Theme" has a classic world music aesthetic to it with reverb drenched saxophone cries being subtly accompanied by percussion. "Preludo To Canto" gives Lund the rare chance of playing some wisely chosen arpeggiated chords that give way to the composition for which the prelude was meant, which unfolds in a similar fashion as "Fernando's Theme."
The more laid-back cuts on the record showcase the band in very different light by scaling back the rhythmical crowded-ness and giving the melodies more time to unfold ("Wave Under Silk," "Fernando's Theme"). Lund's understated lines on guitar never cut through the composition but rather tiptoe between the sonic and harmonic framework he is given. "Wave Under Silk" and "Mirage" aptly demonstrate his unique yet empathic language, and the way he is able to seamlessly navigate his own ideas into those crafted by Sanchez. Luis Perdomo's piano work is elegant and usually does its magic in the background. On closer "A Thousand Yesterdays" he takes on a more prominent role and dictates the rhythm before topping it off with a solo that is nothing other than "cool."
An exciting and highly energetic recording, Carib finds David Sanchez demonstrating a set of jam-packed originals that are executed by some of the best musicians out there. An intriguing mix of musical traditions that engages on many levels.
Morning Mist; Wave Under Silk; Madrigal; Fernando's Theme; Mirage; Prelude to Canto; Canto; The Land Of Hills; Iwa
(contemplation); Iwa (spirit going back home); A Thousand Yesterdays.
David Sanchez: saxophone, barril de bomba, percussion, vocals; Lage Lund: guitar; Luis Perdomo: piano and Fender
Rhodes; Ricky Rodriguez: bass, electric bass; Obed Calvaire: drums, vocals; Jhan Lee Aponte: percussion and bomba barril;
Markus Schwartz: Haitian percussion.
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