@ 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.
“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.”