• David Sanchez: Live At The Village Vanguard

    March 17, 2009. Posted by WBGO.

    David Sanchez. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    Tenor saxophonist David Sanchez possesses the classic resume of a Latin jazz musician. He was born in Puerto Rico, educated by American masters of mainstream jazz and conscripted by Afro-Cuban stanchions Dizzy Gillespie and Eddie Palmieri. But what comes out of his horn these days bears more of his generation's ensign of contemporary post-bop; it sums up his lifelong absorption of folkloric music from throughout the African diaspora. Sanchez presented his universalist, modern approach live at the Village Vanguard, in a performance broadcast on air (and video-cast on the Web) by WBGO, as well as streamed online live (and archived) here at NPR Music.

    Since he first emerged as a bandleader in the mid-'90s, Sanchez has been known as a spectacular saxophone technician. He gave a spirited exhibition of faculties on flowing ballads ("Pra Dizer Adeus," the New Orleans-inspired "The Forgotten Ones") and stylistically amorphous uptempo originals ("Ay Bendito," the new tune "City Sunrise"). Also on display was Sanchez's relatively new band — a quartet featuring Norwegian guitarist Lage Lund. The Norwegian musician warmly replaced the chordal and soloing contributions of many of Sanchez's previous piano players with the spacious yet tactful buzz of his hollow-body electric guitar. Drummer Henry Cole, also a Puerto Rican, and English bassist Orlando LeFleming were key contributors to 2008's Cultural Survival, Sanchez's first album to feature this instrumentation.

    Sanchez has listened intently to Caribbean, South American and African music for many years — he grew up a percussionist, and only began listening to jazz as a 15-year-old. He would go on to study jazz in the New York area, at Rutgers University, where his talent caught the attention of the legendary Dizzy Gillespie. Working in Gillespie's big band during its final years opened many doors for Sanchez, and by 1994, he'd issued his first album.

    After 10 years of being supported by a major record label, including 2004's Latin Grammy-winning Coral, Sanchez moved to Atlanta, where he'd been quietly honing the ideas on Cultural Survival. His appearance at the Village Vanguard was his first in some time, but Sanchez is not an uncommon stage presence in New York; he still tours frequently, and recently was unveiled as one of the musicians spotlighted in a multimedia ad campaign for clothing retailer Banana Republic.

    Set List

    • "City Sunrise"
    • "Pra Dizer Adeus" (E. Lobo)
    • "Ay Bendito"
    • "The Forgotten Ones"
    • "Cultural Survival"


    • David Sanchez, tenor saxophone
    • Lage Lund, guitar
    • Orlando LeFleming, bass
    • Henry Cole, drums


    • Josh Jackson, producer and host
    • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
    • Josh Webb, recording assistant
  • David Sanchez: Interview and Shuffle

    March 17, 2009. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Photo Credit: Devin DeHaven
    Photo Credit: Devin DeHaven

    We're presenting Grammy-winning saxophonist David Sanchez and his quartet at the Village Vanguard tonight at 9pm.
    Be sure to join us - on the air, online, or on the intertube.
    I talked to Sanchez yesterday, just as he was arriving to his hotel room.

    Listen to the interview:

    Then I grabbed his iPod and set it to Shuffle.  Hear the mix:

  • Edward Simon Quartet: Live At The Village Vanguard

    March 11, 2009. Posted by WBGO.

    Edward Simon. (Image Credit: Walt Denson)

    Pianist and composer Edward Simon is a Latin jazz musician, though not necessarily in the way that term traditionally suggests. The hyphen of his Afro-Latin hybrid conjoins the distinctively modern strain of post-bop common to his generation of jazz musicians with a studied take on the folkloric music of his native Venezuela. The Ed Simon Quartet demonstrates this cross-pollination in a live performance at the Village Vanguard, featuring the return of critically lauded tenor saxophonist Mark Turner from a freak hand injury once feared to be debilitating.

    The night began with one of Turner's pieces, and his sinuous, flexible lines remained front and center throughout the set. But it was Simon driving the show, not only with rigorously crafted piano solos, but also by calling a set of tunes that showed off the band in vintage form. Several of the compositions came from the 1995 album Edward Simon — which Simon says will soon be reissued — while the closing number was the title track on 1998's La Bikina. Several pieces ("Alma Llanera," "La Bikina") were based on Venezuelan folk songs, though only those natively familiar with the melodies would likely have recognized them in their contemporary jazz guise.

    Simon first came to the U.S. to study classical and jazz performance; apprenticeships with jazz musicians of all stripes inspired his rediscovery of Venezuelan melodies. He emerged as a leader in the mid-1990s, primarily through the work of his small groups, especially his piano-led trios. Mark Turner and Dave Binney (who made a cameo appearance on soprano sax) have proven to be close associates of Simon throughout that period, as well.

    Simon has released well-received recordings at a constant clip, and more are on the way: A new album, Poesia, is due out shortly, and he's also working on an album of boleros with vocalist Leonardo Granados through the ArtistShare funding system. In 2006, Simon also premiered the Chamber Music America-commissioned "Venezuelan Suite," a group of songs based on Venezuelan patterns and rhythms, accompanied by the abstract paintings of Ellen Priest. Simon and Turner have previously appeared on WBGO and NPR Music's Live at the Village Vanguard broadcast recordings, backing up guitarist Adam Rogers in the first installment of the series.

    Set List

    • "Mesa" (Turner)
    • "Alma Llanera Pt. 1" (Pedro Elias Gutierrez)
    • "Alma Llanera Pt. 2" (Pedro Elias Gutierrez)
    • "Colega" (Simon)
    • "La Bikina" (Ruben Fuentes Gasson) (feat. Dave Binney)


    • Edward Simon, piano
    • Ben Street, bass
    • Adam Cruz, drums
    • Mark Turner, tenor saxophone


    • Josh Jackson, producer and host
    • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
    • Josh Webb, recording assistant