The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

Angelica Sanchez Quintet – Wires and Moss (CF 259)
Pianist Angelica Sanchez presents a new band here, with a frontline of Tony Malaby on soprano and tenor saxes and Marc Ducret on guitar and a rhythm section of Drew Gress and Tom Rainey. It might be convenient to call it a quintet, but at times it hints at that ancient usage of “orchestra” for even the smallest number of musicians: there’s a breadth and a passion and a vision here that suggest great movements and the sweep of history. Sanchez’ compositions are essentially lyrical, whatever the tempo, and they draw on the expressive reserves of both Malaby and Ducret. The former’s sound is a kind of on-going mutation of the idea of breath with the latter’s a sometimes astonishing transformation of the human, his guitar a machine that has learned to speak its own language. The degrees of empathy and focused intensity come to the fore on “Soaring Piasa”, an almost anthemic melody first drawn from Malaby’s mutters, then carried forward by Sanchez’ lightly darting, abstract piano lines, the subtle under pinnings of Ducret, the power of Gress and the looming drama of Rainey all extending the range of motion until Malaby returns and tests the theme for every hint of meaning, expanding its phrases until new messages breakthrough the dense grain and wide vibrato of his sound. Each member of the group assumes the foreground, whether in solo spots or as a leading voice. “Dare” has Rainey at his most abstract, a central figure in a dialogue in which other musicians may keep time while he plays with, plunders and ultimately trivializes its conventionality. Sanchez’ structure is made for it, an elastic vision in which that play of time ultimately becomes a kind of five-ring circus, the various speakers bending the notion of time toward a lyric center. This quintet might be an ideal vehicle for Sanchez, whether the musicians are picking up strands of meaning in her work or adding their own (like Ducret’s intro to the title track or that of Gress on “Bushido”), enriching them all and creating a richly layered field of interpretation and realization around each theme.

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