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David Sanchez
David Sanchez
David Sanchez

David Sanchez
@ Pigeon Island, St. Lucia Jazz Festival
12 May 2008

Click an image to enlarge.


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 a constant.”

David Sanchez

David Sanchez

David Sanchez

David Sanchez

David Sanchez

David Sanchez

David Sanchez

Paoli Mejias

Paoli Mejias

David Sanchez & band



Obsession Coral Sketches Of Dreams
Street Scenes Travesia


Further Recommended

Click David's image below to view his photographs from London Jazz Festival 2008...

David Sanchez @ the London Jazz Festival 2008 (click to go to his page)

Go back to the St. Lucia Jazz Festival 2008 home page.

 Go back to the jazz gallery.

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