@ Pigeon Island, St. Lucia Jazz Festival
12 May 2008
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Born in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Sánchez began playing percussion
and drums at age 8 before migrating to tenor saxophone four years
later. While a student at the prestigious La Escuela Libre de Música
in San Juan, he also took up soprano and alto saxophones as well
as flute and clarinet. The bomba and plena rhythms of Puerto Rico,
along with Cuban and Brazilian traditions, were among the biggest
influences on Sánchez's early taste in music. Sonny Rollins,
Dexter Gordon and John Coltrane had the greatest impact on his playing.
In 1986 Sánchez enrolled at the Universidad de Puerto Rico
in Rio Píedras, but the pull of New York was irresistible.
By 1988 he had auditioned for and won a music scholarship at Rutgers
University in New Jersey. With such close proximity to New York
City, Sánchez quickly became a member of its swirling jazz
scene. He gigged with piano giant Eddie Palmieri and trumpeter Claudio
Roditi who, along with master saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, brought
Sánchez to the attention of Jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie.
In 1991, Gillespie invited the young saxophonist to join his “Live
the Future” tour with Miriam Makeba.
Sanchez’s debut on Columbia “The Departure” was
released in 1995 to critical acclaim. “Sketches of Dreams”
and “Street Scenes” followed with similar praise. Meanwhile,
Sanchez had begun touring with various jazz greats such as Kenny
Barron, Roy Haynes and legendary drummer Elvin Jones, recording
with Barron and Haynes respectively. When he returned to the studio
for his next project, the results were sterling. Produced by Branford
Marsalis, “Obsesión” would garner the saxophonist
his first Grammy nomination. He would follow that album with the
Grammy-nominated (and Latin Grammy-nominated) “Melaza”.
In 2001, Sánchez appeared on high-profile recordings with
bassist Charlie Haden (Nocturne) and trombonist Steve Turre (TNT
[Trombone-N-Tenor]) before issuing another Grammy-nominated release
on Columbia, “Travesía”, which also garnered
rave reviews from jazz cognoscenti.
Sánchez’ most recent recording for Columbia, “Coral”,
earned the saxophonist his fourth Grammy nomination and won a Latin
Grammy after being voted “Best Instrumental Album” of
2005 by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Whether
with Gillespie, Palmieri, Haden and his other jazz mentors, or under
his own name, Sánchez has continued to tour extensively,
bringing his mix of mainstream jazz with Afro-Latin influences to
delighted audiences throughout the globe. In 2003 he partnered with
pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba for a world tour, which took the two artists
to France, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Russia, Germany, Portugal, Holland,
Denmark, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia before Sánchez
took his own band to perform at the Newport Festival at Madarao,
Japan. Later that year, he led his sextet in a triumphal tour through
Spain, followed by a week of performances by his quartet in Athens,
Greece and Fort-de-France, Martinique. In 2004 David collaborated
with Dee Dee Bridgewater on the “Latin Landscapes” world
tour. And, performance highlights in 2005 included an extensive
U.S. tour with Pat Metheny, as well as touring with his own jazz
quartet and trio throughout the U.S., Brazil, Canada and Europe,
extending up to the present.
Sanchez has also proven to be a compelling presence with student
musicians and continues to be in demand for workshops and master
classes throughout the world. In recent years, his academic pursuits
have included visiting professorships at the Peabody Conservatory,
the Conservatory of Puerto Rico and at Indiana University’s
School of Music. He has also been a featured artist for Marsalis
Jams, a program of the non-profit Music Education Initiative, which
takes working jazz ensembles to colleges and universities in the
United States for mini-residencies to enhance capability and lend
insights to student musicians and to build jazz audiences in general.
Sánchez strives for an “organic” approach to
playing, writing, arranging, teaching and recording, and the positive
results are amply demonstrated in his recordings. He explains;
“When you're young, you feel you have to prove yourself.
But as you develop and the years go by, you begin to let the music
come to you. You don't chase something like that. I've been learning,
year after year, how not to chase that muse, and to let it come
to me. Sometimes it’s there; sometimes it’s not. Of
course, you work every year to make that process more and more of