All About Jazz-New York review by Matthew Miller

Angelica Sanchez – A Little House (CF 206)
“Some kinds of music are best listened to alone and without distractions,” writes Carla Bley in a brief, but glowing endorsement included on the inner jacket of this astonishing performance. “I would place this very personal solo piano album in that category.” From the first thunderous notes of “Chantico”, the foreboding opener that blends prepared piano effects, blistering lines and ear-stretching chord clusters, it’s hard not to agree with Bley’s assessment. Sanchez brings a focused intensity to her improvisations and here that intensity is channeled with grace and precision through 13 singular performances. Improvisations like “Stretched” and “Crawl Space” are studies in episodic, spontaneous composition that range from simple melodies to pointillistic atonality. Throughout these tunes and on equally daring pieces like the insistent and polyrhythmic “Up And Over”, Sanchez displays both a dazzling technique and a single-minded commitment to clarity and structure. This approach carries over with the pianist’s forays into extended techniques and search for newtonal colors. Throughout the title track, Sanchez doesn’t hesitate to reach into the piano to pluck or stretch a string or transition a line to a toy piano in mid-improvisation. Like everything on this thrilling album, these displays of extended technique demand committed listening, but also richly reward it with moments of transcendent beauty. As rigorous as many of the improvisations are, it is also the moments of quiet levity that make this album truly shine. From the original “Glow”, a ballad that sounds almost Ellingtonian in its grandeur and impressionistic melodicism, to the brilliant reworkingof Hank Thompson’s country anthem, “I’ll Sign MyHeart Away”, it’s clear that the leader’s views on composition carry over into her role as producer, just as it’s clear that A Little House is an artistic high-watermark for Sanchez.

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