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JAZZ REVIEW : A Potent Sax From Sanchez

October 07, 1994|DON HECKMAN

Remember this name: David Sanchez. That's Dah-veed Sahn-chez. Might as well get the preferred pronunciation right up front, because if the Puerto Rican-born tenor saxophonist's appearance at the Jazz Bakery Wednesday night was any indication, it's a name that is going to be highly visible in the jazz of the '90s--and beyond.

Yet another of Dizzy Gillespie's discoveries, Sanchez, 26, has been one of the busiest players in jazz since he worked with the late trumpet great's United Nation Orchestra in 1991. This year, with the release of his first solo album, Sanchez has taken both his music and his potential up a level.

His playing, understandably for a young tenor saxophonist, reveals traces of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. But only as foundational elements.

In Wednesday's program, for example, Sanchez mixed standards with originals, constantly starting on familiar ground, then challenging his listeners to track his intensive improvisational explorations. Like Sonny Rollins, he took a standard--"Falling in Love With Love"--and played a set of variations that pulled the melody in all directions, tossing and recovering bits and pieces of phrases, while always retaining a strong sense of the tune's familiar identity. On other numbers--a gorgeous rubato passage on "It's Easy to Remember" was a good illustration--he scanned the harmonies with a Coltranesque vision and his own warmly intimate tone.

Several originals were based on Caribbean rhythms. One of the most impressive, the multi-metric "The Departure," initially echoed the buoyant dance qualities of Rican bomba bands. But Sanchez's soloing, powerfully backed by drummer Adam Cruz, pianist Dave Kikoski and bassist Ed Howard, quickly moved into more exotic territory. His string of choruses--exploding with a collection of sounds that reached across the length and breadth of his instrument--provided the final evidence that Sanchez is quickly becoming a player to be reckoned with.

* The David Sanchez Quartet at the Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave., Culver City, (310) 271-9039, $20, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., through Saturday.

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