Marta Sánchez (p), Chris Cheek (ts), Roman Filiu (as), Rick Rosato (b), Daniel Dor (d)
Bar code: 8427328435871
“A noted composer, Marta Sánchez is from Madrid and her music, although couched in terms of contemporary jazz, occasionally hints at her cultural origins. This is very much a collaborative venture and although Sánchez is a pianist (and a very good one indeed), this music is designed to display the talents of all the instrumentalists. In particular, the writing spotlights the two saxophonists, both of whom solo well and where appropriate lend support to their fellows.
None of the material is simple, but no matter how complex it is, the skills of all cope readily. Importantly, neither the compositions nor the skilful playing are applied simply for effect even though both Chris Cheek and Roman Filiu are virtuoso players. Demands are also placed on the rhythm section but Sánchez, Rosato and Dor all accommodate the complexities with flair. Often impressionistic, some of the ensemble passages suggest that the music heard is a collective improvisation rather than composed.
Technically demanding music can sometimes be beyond the comprehension of non-musician listeners but here the writing and playing is such that it provides a stimulating and rewarding experience.”
Bruce Crowther (February 24, 2020)
"Marta Sánchez has a knack for threading diverse material together, and having it all balance out: not too much of any one thing. […] Sánchez the composer likes the melancholy blend of twinned saxophones, set against complex rhythm figures. Motifs that crop up in one pocket of the band might spread to another.
Dynamics and ensemble density swell and recede. The passion in Spanish music is traditionally tied to rhythm, and there are whispers of flamenco beats in high-stepping “El Cambio” and in “El Rayo de Luz” with its sturdy rhythmic tattoos for rhythm trio, independently whirling corkscrew lines for saxes, and a rousing downhill March."
—Kevin Whitehead, The Audio Beat
"When pianist Marta Sánchez moved to New York in 2011, she already had become known as one of the most promising musicians in Spain. Since then she has started to amass an impressive catalog of original music, particularly with her quintet, built on wandering, polyphonic melodies rooted in the plangent beauty of the Spanish folk tradition.
Her compositions are lyrical and infectious and never overly mannered. They remind us that a great chamber-jazz composer can inject vitality into well-trodden influences (Guillermo Klein, Carla Bley, Andres Segovia, Claude Debussy) if she roots them in her own history. Pretty soon, Sánchez might enjoy the kind of fandom in New York that she does in Madrid.
The folk quality in Sánchez’s music comes through in two ways: via her shapely melodies and the illusion of collective invention in her quintet’s sound. Since her first quintet record, Partenika (2015), the major story of this ensemble has been her ability to coalesce multiple lines—played on alto and tenor saxophone, and piano—into a purling stream. It’s not quite right to call this music singable, as if you’d be able to carry it home in your head, humming a single line back to yourself. But it feels like you ought to be.
On El Rayo De Luz, Roman Filiu’s alto saxophone and Chris Cheek’s tenor trace the skyline of each composition: What each saxophonist plays tends to be rather simple, coming in long- ish tones, rather than zigzags or angular leaps. But their roles are so intertwined that it’s always hard to know who’s in the lead and who is the support. It’s as if Sánchez has invented a new form of hocketing.
Below the horns, the rhythm section spins a web of complexity. She plays counterintuitive patterns and twirling phrases with a lithe, gliding touch on the piano, adding an element of gentle agitation, sparring with Rick Rosato’s bass and Daniel Dor’s drums, ensuring that these tunes levitate even as they weave. (Her love for six- and nine-beat time signatures helps with that.)
On “Unchanged,” the album’s closer, each chord Sánchez plays sounds as if it were a few inches further off the ground than the last. As Cheek improvises a steady, smearing solo, half of what he invents seems like it could be the written-out melody of another song.
Filiu begins “Parmesano” with a stream of long, bending notes, sounding wistful and secretly pained. Cheek sprinkles a descending melody over him, and the rhythm section fills in with splashes of caution and apprehension. Later, with Dor’s rolling beat starting to resemble a bolero, Sánchez lays out for two full minutes. She only returns at the end, pulling things back to center with a sharp, short, piano-bass- drums coda. It’s a reminder that all of this lovely, loosely unspooled music began somewhere: in the fastidious province of her mind, as a notion of something that should be shared."
★ ★ ★ ★ Downbeat (January, 2020)
"The pianist Marta Sánchez, who moved to New York from Madrid in 2011, has one of the most quietly memorable groups in jazz: a multinational quintet (each member was born in a different country) that plays her molten, Spanish folk-influenced compositions. Melodies become a three-way repartee between Sánchez and the group’s two saxophonists, Chris Cheek and Roman Filiu, and on “El Rayo de Luz” — the title track from the quintet’s newest album — the overlaying of two time signatures on top of each other lends everything a sense of both imbalance and propulsion."
The New York Times (November 22, 2019)
"Madrid-born, New York City-based pianist/composer Marta Sánchez’s fourth album as a leader. Here, she takes to the studio with her quintet – including saxophonists Chris Cheek and Roman Filiu, bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Daniel Dor – to record a set of compositions that sometimes appears even more adventurous and compelling than anything she has ever recorded before. The music, in fact, is influenced by her daily life as an active musician in New York City’s polyglot music scene. “Having the opportunity to play with a broad spectrum of musicians inspired my compositions and improvisations by making it possible to access a broad palette of harmony, rhythm and melody,” she says via a press release."
Jazziz (November 2019)