The music of David Sanchez is rooted in Latin jazz. The Puerto Rican saxophonist learned percussion first and came up the ranks on his current instrument playing with many of New York's top Latin players. While it was not unusual for he and his band to resolve an extended improvisational passage into a mambo showcasing the very talented pianist Hector Gomez, Sanchez also appears to draw heavily from bop and the avant garde as well. Sanchez and his quartet played with an intensity comparable to the classic quartet and later bands of John Coltrane; tellingly, a workout based on an Eddie Palmieri tune turned into a duet between Sanchez and drummer Adam Cruz starting with a quote from and continuing in the manner of Coltrane and Rashid Ali's Interstellar Space.
Coral consists mainly of jazz interpretations of pieces by some of Latin America's most prestigious composers, such as the title composition by Hector Villa Lobos. One of the highlights of the show was a sprawling performance of "Cancion de Canaveral," Mr. Sanchez's sole composition on the album. The new material, some still being worked out in real time on stage, was exciting as well; Sanchez blew tenderly on a ballad called "Paradise Adios," while another tune adventurously traversed through several time signatures, beginning with a section in 9/8 or close to it.
David Sanchez has rightly been considered one of the most exciting young talents in jazz, and it seems to me that he's reached the point where we can strike the reference to his age out of that sentence while leaving the balance intact. A dynamic musician of seemingly tireless invention, the saxophonist has displayed tremendous artistic growth in his first decade as a bandleader and seems determined to continue an exploratory course. The David Sanchez Quartet's date at Regattabar felt like an event, as I expect most evening with this inspired group must.