David Sanchez – Cultural Survival – Concord Picante CCD-30562, 75.50 *****:
(David Sanchez – tenor sax, percussion, vocal; Lage Lund – guitar; Ben Street, Hans Glawischnig – bass; Henry Cole, Adam Cruz – drums; Pernell Saturnino – percussion)
Cultural Survival, the eighth session for David Sanchez as leader, is unquestionably his finest. It represents nearly a quantum leap forward in all aspects of his musicianship: as composer, bandleader, soundscape-shaper, and soloist.
What most jumps out is his selection and deployment of bandmates. Whereas his previous discs as leader seemed to me to have encountered difficulties in finding musical equals, here everyone seamlessly meshes. I’m particularly struck by the role up-and-coming guitarist Lage Lund plays. Certainly Sanchez’s equal as soloist, he almost defines a new direction in post-bop-oriented Latinate jazz with his fluid solos and intelligent comping. Where this Norwegian native via Berklee and Julliard honed his Latin-jazz chops—probably thru late nights on the bandstand—remains a mystery, but honed them he has. Proof? “Monk’s Mood,” with its altogether apropo Monkish mysterioso vibe, yet reconfigured into an achingly poignant sorrow-ballad reeking Latin redolence. Ben Street (bass)—a player of exceptional emotional range and technique—Henry Cole and Adam Cruz (drums), and especially Danilo Perez (piano, 2 & 6), provide exceptional complementarity to leader Sanchez.
Whereas Sanchez’s other recordings seemed to struggle to find optimal sound patterns, this disc wears its leader’s sonic preoccupations with casual aplomb. The result? That serendipitous confluence of entirely apt aural configurations that graces only the greatest jazz sessions: Each selection effortlessly glides and gambols with reckless abandon.
1. Coast To Coast
2. Manto Azul
4. Monk’s Mood
5. Ay Bendito
6. Cultural Survival
7. The Forgotten Ones
– Jan P. Dennis