Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Sweet Synthesis

By Michael Henningsen

APRIL 19, 1999:  At 31 years old, David Sánchez is fast becoming a powerful force in post-bop and Latin jazz circles. Primarily a tenor saxophonist, Sánchez is also quite accomplished on the soprano horn as well, as evidenced by a pair of tracks each on three of four recordings for Columbia--Sketches of Dreams, Street Scenes and, most recently, Obsesión.

Increasingly renowned for his synthesis of Puerto Rican, Afro-Cuban and traditional jazz sounds, the Puerto Rican-born, American-raised Sánchez started out on congas before switching to alto at the age of 12. At 20, he moved to New York to pursue a career as a musician and joined Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra in 1990 after a two-year stint freelancing with many top Latin players, including saxophonist/clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera and trumpeter Claudio Roditi. Since his sessions with Gillespie, Sánchez has toured and recorded with a bevy of the finest musicians in jazz--from Slide Hampton's Jazz Masters and Charlie Sepulveda to Roy Hargrove and Danilo Perez (who played piano on Sánchez's first two albums and was a member, along with Sánchez, of Hargrove's Afro-Cuban tentet, Crisol).

It has been as a leader, though, that the talented young saxophonist has made the greatest strides. Obsesión, released last summer, presents Sánchez in top form, his melting pot sound a well-simmered stew of Central and South American motifs, along with spicy nuggets of Afro-Caribbean rhythmic structures. His maturation as a soloist over the years has brought a fluidity to his playing that recalls Sonny Rollins at his most merciful and a tone that hints at mid-'60s Joe Henderson.

Obsesión is made up of seven masterfully retooled Latin standards (Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Omorro nao tem vez" and the Pedro Flores-penned title track standouts among them), along with Ray Bryant's "Cuban Fantasy." The album is simply Sánchez at his most stunning, which promises to make live performances by Sánchez's touring quintet more than just memorable.

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