David Sanchez ‘Cultural Survival’ (Concord) 3/5

Puerto Rican born tenor saxophonist David Sanchez has over a fifteen year period explored his musical folk roots of bomba and plena in a variety of contexts, but has steered away from the Latin jazz formula. Indeed his last recording was devoted to Latin classical composers and involved work with a symphony orchestra. Now on the Concord label, he has returned to a more abstract, jazzier sound, and one that reflects the influence of the tenorist he sounds closest to, namely Sonny Rollins. Sanchez employs his own band with long-time collaborator Adam Cruz on drums and guitarist Lage Lund filling the space normally employed by piano. However, piano is in evidence on three tracks, two of which feature Danilo Perez. The majority of the lengthy compositions are Sanchez’s own and perhaps he does not yet possess the lyricism of say a Michael Brecker or Kenny Garrett to carry this off wholly successfully. The uptempo piece ‘Adoracion’ is actually the same title of a famous Eddie Palmieri composition and part way through Sanchez plays a riff from the original chorus, with Cruz impressing on polyrhythmic percussion. Lund stretches out on ‘Coast to Coast’ with Metheny-esque guitar licks while Perez accompanies Sanchez and the band on the Michael Brecker sounding waltz ‘Mambo Azul’. In general while technically accomplished, some of the tracks simply lack warmth and tend to drag on for too long. It is on the laid back ‘Monk’s Mood’ that the soulfulness in Sanchez’s tenor playing comes to the fore and in future he should concentrate on this aspect of his playing.

Tim Stenhouse