If he's not already there, David Sanchez's new album should secure the Puerto Rican-born tenor saxophonist's place among the very top younger jazz artists working today. Blending bebop, Latin and classical elements, Coral is the most ambitious, mature, genre-stretching musical statement of the 35-year-old's already noteworthy career.
Recorded in the Czech Republic with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra alongside Sanchez's own inventive sextet, Coral dramatically reinterprets the work of contemporary Latin American composers both familiar (Jobim, Villa Lobos) and foreign to many jazz ears (Argentina's Alberto Ginastara). Two Sanchez originals and one from arranger/conductor Carlos Franzetti complete the set.
The album opens with a pair of seldom-heard pieces by the Brazilian bossa nova master Antonio Carlos Jobim: the dreamy ballad "Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar" and the more upbeat "Matita Pere." More challenging, but still highly accessible, are Villa Lobos' elegant title cut and Ginastara's pensive, rhythmically diverse "Vidala." Sanchez's own "Elements II" brings the sextet to the fore and offers the leader, along with alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon, room for fiery, extended improvisations. On all the tracks, the jazz and symphonic players merge seamlessly, steering clear of the awkward patches that sometimes befall musicians performing outside their comfort zones.
Coral is more than a jazz saxophonist soloing in front of a string section or trying to prove his classical chops; it's an orchestra and jazz group working to create a whole that's greater than its parts alone.
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.
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