October 23, 2007

LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE:

Hybrid Music From a Hybrid Ensemble (NATE CHINEN, 10/23/07, NY Times)

"La Leyenda del Cañaveral," the long-form composition he unveiled on Wednesday night at Zankel Hall, concerns itself with the movement of slaves from Africa to the Caribbean, and the resulting hybrid culture; the title means "The Legend of the Cane Plantation." As performed by Mr. Sánchez with a sextet, it was potent and impressive, though perhaps not always in the ways intended.

The suitelike piece, which had its premiere in Mr. Sánchez's native Puerto Rico this spring, extends a theme he originally tapped for his album "Melaza," released on Columbia in 2000. What prompted him to pick it up again was a poem of the same name written by one of his sisters, Margarita Sánchez de León. "The cadence of the poem was really strong," he said from the stage, adding that he had used that cadence as a guide.

This sounded promising, but when the Puerto Rican rapper SieteNueve joined the ensemble to recite "Melaza," at the beginning and end of the suite, he came across as an interloper. The poem's text — a terse incantation, arresting and entirely unsubtle — served essentially the same purpose as the melodic head in a bebop tune.

Whatever shortcomings this indicated were redeemed by the music.


As Charlie Parker's work with string sections and much of Miles Davis demonstrates, in jazz, subtraction would often be addition.


MORE:
Jazz is backbone of David Sánchez's African rhythm (Ed Morales, October 14, 2007, Newsday)

Ever since he was part of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra, Puerto Rican saxophonist David Sánchez has dedicated much effort to tracing the influences of African music on jazz. In 2000, Sánchez released "Melaza (Molasses)," a meditation on the cultural legacy of African sugar-cane workers in Puerto Rico. His sister, Margarita Sánchez de León, subsequently wrote a poem of the same title, which in turn has inspired Sánchez's latest work, "La Leyenda del Cañaveral," premiering at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall (212-247-7800) Wednesday.

Commissioned by Chamber Music America, "La Leyenda del Cañaveral" draws inspiration from Sánchez's recent investigations into the music of Tanzania as well as the Baca Forest people of Cameroon. "I thought since Margarita was inspired by 'Melaza,' what if I forget about that album and just follow the cadence of her poem to do something new," said Sánchez in a phone interview. "The piece is in three motifs, three sections. Originally it was supposed to be for two horns, but since I've been using guitar in my quartet, I replaced the second horn with a guitar."

Sánchez allows that the "backbone" of this new work is jazz, but what he does in the composition process is to reinterpret these African music forms through jazz conventions.


Posted by Orrin Judd at October 23, 2007 11:06 AM
Comments

OJ and Foos: Either of you every read the collection of Phillip Larkin's Jazz criticism from the 60's, "All What Jazz"? He would likely agree with the subtraction doctrine.

It's a collection well worth reading, even if you don't agree with his assessments of various artists

Posted by: Twn at October 23, 2007 2:32 PM

I'll have to look for that one.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2007 5:10 PM

I haven't seen it either....but I'm sure OJ will dig it up and send it to me....thanks for the head's up...

Posted by: Foos at October 24, 2007 12:59 AM
« ALL ALONG THE AXIS: | Main | WITH SPHERICALITY COMES RESPONSIBILITY: »