Antonio Sanchez at the Jazz Standard, 3/8/2013

9 Mar

This week drummer Antonio Sanchez is releasing New Life. his third album as a leader. He is performing at the Jazz Standard for the occasion. Thana Alex, his fiancée, on on vocals; David Binney, who is one of Sanchez’s “favorite composers and players,” is on alto and soprano saxophones; Donny McCaslin, whom Sanchez has “played with tons,” is on tenor saxophone; Orlando Le Fleming, who, as Sanchez explained, “played with David Sanchez’s band,” is on bass and John Escreet is on piano.

Overall, the musical ideas of the evening (Friday March 8th) were most original and having two saxophone players was quite a treat – especially since the two musicians created dynamic dialogues and played what sounded like complicated, abstract music at times. For the first set, the first tune the band played  was nervous, serious and fast. Overall, the band went from what sounded like free jazz to atonal music to funky moments. The pianist created colors and a sort of occasional roaring, which took the musicians to another place altogether.

Donny McCaslin’s sound is clear and open, but also wild at times – which is probably why, in other setups, he and Jason Lindner can be such a great musical match.

During tonight’s first set, it was sometimes difficult to know when tunes would end or start since transitions between them were beautiful and effortless: the band would playfully and unexpectedly jump from one musical idea to the next. I was reminded of the intelligence and creativity Rubalcaba always displays when performing. The musicians on stage tonight created a delightful and thought-provoking conversation.

Singers usually add a great touch to sets, but the voice of alluring Thana Alex was not on par with the other musicians’ musical energy. The idea of her scatting with the band is excellent, but the execution needs improvement. Among those brilliant musicians, she is exactly where she needs to be to hone her skills and be mentored with excellency. Sanchez’s brio is indisputable.

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