Marta Sánchez regains lost beauty with a refreshing quartet

When Marta Sánchez’s mother died suddenly in late 2020, the pianist went missing. But Sánchez knew, almost instinctively, where she could process her grief: at the piano, pen and paper in hand, making new music for her quintet.

In the decade since she moved to New York from Madrid, the quintet has been Sánchez’s main source of creativity. And since its release launched in 2015 strongly“Partenika,” it has established itself as one of the most consistently satisfying bands in contemporary jazz – thanks in large part to the streamlined complexity and open energy of Sánchez’s tunes. , blurring the gap between the main tone and the accompaniment, stable circuit and bouncy drift.

The team’s personnel rotated frequently, but the form never changed: a pair of saxophones in the front, often in high contrast to each other; a bassist; a drummer; and Sánchez’s piano tension technique.

As a composer, she draws a lot of inspiration from life experience, and no matter how technical her music is, it retains an unobtrusive, deep appeal. (On “Partenika”, skillfully sculpted tunes often have obscene namelike “Patella Dislocation” – yes, inspired by a knee injury Sánchez has suffered – or simply “Yayyyy.”) So it’s no surprise that the quintet’s fourth album, “SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum)“Both musically complex and emotionally direct, trying to convey the pain of loss intact, indelible.

The quintet’s lineup has almost completely changed since its latest release, “El Rayo De Luz,” from 2019. Saxophonist Román Filiú – a collaborator of Sánchez since before she moved to New York – was the only original member left, and he even moved on. from alto to tenor, giving way to alto saxophonist Alex LoRe. The rhythm section is currently filled by two of the most requested players in New York: bassist Rashaan Carter and drummer Allan Mednard.

Quintets are a standard format in jazz music; there are two saxophones in front, less. Sánchez’s group has something in common with Elite, a two sax quintet led by pianist and composer Michele Rosewoman, repeatedly, since the 1980s: a light, often playful rhythm; interweaving saxophone tunes; a dynamic role for the piano, being able to add melodious counterpoint to the saxophone or introduce harmonic blocks into the mix. But Sánchez – who studied classical piano and composition at a conservatory in Spain – ultimately seemed more interested in the chamber jazz of Lennie Tristano, whose incorporated in the 1960s featuring saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh.

And could not find the living legacies of Carla Bley and Guillermo Klein, two pianists-composers who drew on the folk traditions that formed jazz and pop music, and who influenced Sánchez’s composition. Klein, an Argentina-born big band frontman best known for alternating, cyclical melodies, was a teacher and mentor to Sánchez in the 2000s, while he was living in Barcelona; she will go from Madrid to study.

Polyphonic group improvisation is central to the early jazz of New Orleans and the joy of hearing the trumpeters trade and haggle tunes has always part of the tradition. In Sánchez’s group, it is often an element of composition rather than improvisation – but the two are not always clearly divided: A saxophone solo can give way to a three-part tune. finely combined, then unfolds into a rugged piano solo.

Sánchez had tended towards a darker, more discreet approach to harmony and melody (they were often one and the same for her) before her mother passed away. And there’s evidence of that interest throughout “SAAM,” not just on loss-inspired tunes. It’s there on “December 11,” named for the day she died, and in “The Eternal Stillness,” where a weary yawn of soaring saxophone harmonies leads to a heated exchange. , acrimonious. But it’s also on “Dear Worthiness,” a poignant meditation on the many sources of today’s lack of confidence, and on “When Dreaming Is the Only,” the album’s vibrant, vibrant final track. , in which Sánchez ranges from low to high. , notes the entanglements and complex chords, fueling the interplay of LoRe and Filiú’s tense saxophones.

As a listener, you can feel both energized and overwhelmed by this music, caught between the desire to keep singing the vibrant tunes around your ears and the admission that you really can’t. be that alone.

The exception is “Marivi”, the album’s central track and the only track without saxophonists. Instead, it features guitarists and singers Camila Meza, a longtime Sánchez collaborator, sings Sánchez’s melancholy tunes and lyrics; trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire lightly outline her back; and synths artists Charlotte Greve add faint textures.

The words, in Spanish, are a soliloquy tang: A sentence that is translated as “I imagined that we would have many days / where you would tell me / the secrets of your past.” After Akinmusire’s solo, Meza returns to the main topic, and he joins her simply. This time, writing from within a wish that never came true, Sánchez created a tone of stunning simplicity and beauty. When the album ends, it’s something you can really take with you.

Marta Sánchez Quartet
“SAAM (Hispanic American Art Museum)”
(Whirlwind Record) Marta Sánchez regains lost beauty with a refreshing quartet

Fry Electronics Team

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