The words “profoundly beautiful” are often used to describe works of art, but often some works appear to give new meaning to those words – like the music on this album Carib by David Sánchez, for example. The album comes two and a half decades after his recording debut, The Departure (Sony/Legacy). Granted that an artist often dips his biographical brush into much of what he does – or at least casts his mind back to what forms experiential content – but Carib does this in a much more thoughtful – even philosophical – manner. Themes and content meld seamlessly on this repertoire as a result and driven by the naturally meditative sincerity with which Mr Sánchez presents his art always, means that every note you will hear out of his horn ripens and swells with the kind of gravitas before it is propelled into the atmosphere from the bell of his burnished instrument.
This kind of musicianship is associated with artists who are completely comfortable with the instrument they play, having gone to battle with it all of their adult lives. But using it to describe something as elemental as the rhythm with which your blood courses through your veins is quite another matter. This is where the music of Carib comes from and the majesty with which it has been conceived of and executed is breathtaking to behold. It is characterised by deep and dense colours pronounced in the deep and dense context of the African soundscape experienced through the filter of the line drawn between Puerto Rico, Haiti and Jazz, and moulded into an artifice comprising of plump melodies and harmonies rocked by Obed Calvaire‘s drum-set and the thundrous barril de bomba and other rousing percussion unique to the area, played magnificently by Jhan Lee Aponte and Markus Schwartz. Of course, Mr Sánchez has also enlisted several other members of the finest musical community playing today, all of whom are also completely attuned to his singular vision and artistry which is often couched in the soft meditative conversations of Lage Lund‘s guitar and Luis Perdomo‘s piano mediated by Mr Sánchez’s tenor saxophone.
There is also this: Many musicians of that cultural ethos (and others too) might use instruments to appropriate that feeling to express their stories. But what makes this experience quite simply singular; so utterly unique are the tonal colours that Mr Sánchez is able to drive his lungs and other parts of his body – including, of course, heart and mind – to translate into music. Which is how a song like “Morning Mist” of “The Land of Hills” becomes not simply a morning mist or land of hills, but the “Morning Mist and “Land of Hills” unique to Mr Sánchez’s soundscape and – in this case landscape – of Carib. That is, of course, not where it ends for all of this comes with as a windfall: the absolutely magical manner in which Mr Sánchez delivers all of this to you often pausing after a particular phrase that he has suddenly punctuated by a brief moment of dancing silence, as if he wants you, the listener, to savour the musical moment just as he did playing it for you.
How privileged we are then to be allowed to gain entry into Mr Sánchez’s world which may be public as in the landscape he describes and that everyone can see – as in “The Land of Hills” – and in the edifying music of “Iwa (contemplation and spirit of going back home)”, both of which have been culled from the cultural topography that is part of the DNA of the African Diaspora, dispersed over centuries, but also in the interior landscape of the mind which is revealed in the ethereal beauty of “Wave Under Silk”, “Madigra” and “Fernando’s Theme” as well as in “Mirage”, the cinematic “Prelude to Canto” and “Canto” and most compellingly in “A Thousand Yesterdays”, a song filled with glinting lights, mysterious depths, expectations, frustrations, hopes and joys. In short this is an album in which for sheer colour and variety, in the depth of its characterisation and the exceptional range and variety of musicianship Mr Sánchez imparts a power and stature to music in a manner that very few musicians of his generation have achieved.
Track list – 1: Morning Mist; 2: Wave Under Silk; 3: Madigra; 4: Fernando’s Theme; 5: Mirage; 6: Prelude to Canto; 7: Canto; 8: The Land of Hills; 9: Iwa (Contemplation); 10: Iwa (Spirit going back home); 11: A Thousand Yesterdays
Personnel – David Sánchez: tenor saxophone, barril de bomba (2, 3, 8, 10, 11), percussion (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11) and vocals (3); Obed Calvaire: drums and vocals (5); Lage Lund: guitar; Ricky Rodriguez: electric bass and contrabass; Luis Perdomo: piano and Fender Rhodes (2, 3, 5, 7, 11), and vocals (5); Jhan Lee Aponte: percussion (2, 3, 8, 11) and barril de bomba (2, 3, 8, 11); Markus Schwartz: Haitian percussion (4, 5, 7)
Released – 2019
Stretch Music / Melaza Music / Ropeadope Records (RAD 474)
Runtime – 1:03:53