Marta Sánchez (p), Jerome Sabbagh (ts), Roman Filiu (as), Sam Anning (b), Jason Burger (d)
Bar code: 8427328424707
All Music 2015 Favorite Jazz Album
"Theres an intriguing flow throughout Partenika, pianist Marta Sánchezs second album as a leader. Like the heartbeat of a city or the pulse of an ecosystem, Sánchezs original pieces mesh together into a comprehensive framework.
The native of Spain and current Brooklyn resident was classically trained at her hometown conservatory before earning her masters degree in jazz from NYU. For this disc, she utilized one of her New York-based working bands, a cohesive unit compiled from international voices. (Alto saxophonist Román Filiú is from Cuba by way of Spain; tenor player Jerome Sabbagh hails from Paris; bassist Sam Anning grew up in Perth, Australia; and drummer Jason Burger was born and raised in California.)
Opening beings with cymbal washes, arco bass and Sánchezs hypnotic piano lines. Its an understated display of dramatic catch-and-release, with the bandleaders fluid keyboarding acting as a through line. The subsequent Patella Dislocation offers considerably more tension than relief. Shifting rhythms lay the foundation for some freer soloing before an extended solo by Burger.
According to the Ethan Iverson-penned liner notes, the title track was influenced by Greek street music heard near the Parthenon. One quickly can imagine tourists and locals populating the historic site, as Sánchez gently prods them along with her pathos-filled comping.
The journey concludes with the kinetic El Paso De Los Años, which allows each of the band members to stretch out as a group, leaving the listener at once satisfied and a little breathless.
-Yoshi Kato (September, 2015)
Down Beat Digital Edition
"Sonidos etéreos, estilos y homenajes ocultos se mezclan en este disco en el que las texturas y los colores proponen un recorrido visual por ocho composiciones de Marta Sánchez.
Hay reposos y estallidos, los arreglos pasan de una atmósfera minimalista a un entorno abierto, con el piano marcando más los arreglos y las armonías y los saxos las improvisaciones. La sensación, pese a los cambios, es de coherencia. Cada detalle ha sido tratado con el mismo pincel. En este efecto óptico, la música fluye cada vez más libre, nos lleva.
El trabajo comienza con Opening, corte clásico y cinematográfico, de aires chopinescos, le sigue Patella Dislocation, un tema de jazz moderno con un vamp luminoso de piano y una notable interacción entre los saxos. El tercer tema, Partenika, se nutre de la música callejera griega; una introducción del bajo sirve de apertura a reminiscencias corales entre el piano y los saxos. Después, dos baladas (Baladas del momento y Andy), separadas por una pieza de aires españoles: Yayyyy.
Small Game replica en su aspecto minimalista a Opening, y la pulsación, austera y lírica, a Brad Mehldau. El disco se cierra con El paso de los años, composición de tiempos rápidos, comandada por la batería y el saxo tenor, en la que las líneas sincopadas del piano marcan el fondo.
Partenika es un collage poderoso, un retrato expresivo y versátil, en el que la música ha sido compuesta también para el ojo. Evoca la acción y la lágrima, el recuerdo y el entusiasmo; transmite, de manera cerebral pero a la vez espiritual, una música que sobre todo narra mostrando."
-Marcos Maggi (Septiembre, 2015)
Cuadernos de Jazz
"The Spanish jazz pianist Marta Sánchez moved to New York four years ago and became part of the local scene, but her music ties a number of places and traditions together. On Partenika, recorded with her new international band and recently released by Fresh Sound, you can hear bits of flowing folk song perhaps Spanish, although the title track was apparently influenced by street music heard in Athens colliding with the tricky rhythmic patterning of current New York jazz, the free grooves of Ornette Colemans early-60s band and some pop-song melody. There are elements from the classical tradition, both medieval and 19th century; and because Ms. Sánchez writes for two saxophones in the bands front line the French-born Jerome Sabbagh on tenor and the Cuban-born Román Filiú on alto, who sometimes travel together in harmonized passages there are occasional echoes of Lennie Tristanos music with Warne Marshs and Lee Konitzs. Its an ambitious record by a strong new group."
-Ben Ratliff (June 12, 2015)
The New York Times
"Originally from Madrid, where she underwent extensive conservatory training, pianist/composer Marta Sánchez (not to be confused with her pop singer namesake) now resides in New York, recently releasing Partenika, an impressive portfolio of original compositions brought to life by her working quintet. Fronted by the two saxophone team of Román Filiú (alto) and Jerome Sabbagh (tenor) and anchored by bassist Sam Anning and drummer Jason Burger, the group is at once laid-back and forward-thinking, able to navigate the intricacies of Sánchez knotty melodic, harmonic and/or rhythmic structures with refinement and restraint. Filiú and Sabbagh are often set in complementary opposition, their voices distinctive yet simpatico.
Sánchez exploits their saxual chemistry with a clever hocketing motif on Small Game played over a broken vamp and on the title tracks tangled theme played over a 21-beat pulse, where the horns sound like two flies caught in a spiderweb. On Patella Dislocation they move in parallel and/or divide in snarky counterpoint, each taking a solo as the band completely deconstructs then reassembles the piece. El Paso de los Años sets their echoing lines over a broken vamp with slow-rising and falling chords. Filiús solo on Balada del Momento gently caresses the slip-sliding, slowly morphing chords that bleed together like wet watercolors; Sabbaghs soloing ranges from conversational (Patella Dislocation) and fiery (Andy) to nimbly eloquent (El Paso de los Años). Sanchez soloing is similarly distinctive, betraying a strong contemporary classical influence and leaving unexpected gaps in the midst of deft quicksilver phrases, heard to best effect on the brooding Balada del Momento, Yayyy and Small Game, where her notes cascade like an avalanche of small rocks, catching air as they collide with immoveable objects.
Anning and Burger are the kind of rhythm section players that New Yorkers tend to take for granted: highly accomplished and versatile musicians who adapt their artistry to the immediate musical context. Anning introduces the title track and takes an impressive turn on the labyrinthine Yayyy while Burger is commendable for his ability to make mixed meters almost danceable."
-Tom Greenland (July, 2015)
The New York City Jazz Record
"Sánchez is happy with a modest presence on this album of her compositions, often allowing others to bear the weight of musical argument while she artfully avoids shrinking violet status. When she does emerge fully, taking her turn on Balada Del Momento before the saxophone duo of Filiú and Sabbagh drift to an abrupt halt, its with subdued and tasteful filigree. She pops out again on the snappier mixed-metre tune Yayyy, but by then the potency of the double horns as a compositional device is clear. With Small Game, it becomes clear that the predominant mood will be one of enlivened introspection of the kind weve come to know from certain contemporary piano trios. Filiús solo here illustrates the circumscribed tempi at which the soloists are at their most articulate.Linked horns are back again to introduce El Paso De Los Anos, driven, like Yayyy, by a Latin-American impulse but motivated by something clearly more personal. Even the free-ish episodes of Patella Dislocation are part of something more disciplined. As with many other studio recordings of fairly tightly controlled arrangements, one wonders what the band would sound like live. It might be a mistake to sacrifice the frame to the pictures further expansion, even though these are sometimes broad-brushed surfaces. But you never know."
-Nigel Jarrett (Jazz Journal, July 2015)
"It's a well-established fact that New York remains a magnet for jazz musicians from all over the U.S. For years Chicagoans have migrated east to be in the thick of itthe heart of the jazz industry, if not its creative center. Greg Ward, Marquis Hill, Christopher McBride, and Milton Suggs are just a few examples of local talent that are no longer local. But it's not just Americans that flock to the Big Appleplayers from all over the globe gravitate there. The competition tends to force players to step up their game, and that certainly seems the case for the impressive Spanish pianist Marta Sánchez, who grew up in Madrid but now resides in New York. Earlier this year she released Partenika (Fresh Sound New Talent), her third album, but her first made on American soil with players from New York.
Of course, both saxophonists in the frontline of her quintet are foreigners, tootenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh is French, while alto saxophonist Román Filiú is Cubanbut together they form a sound that feels thoroughly New York-ish, wherein countless streams and traditions commingle. In an online interview published by jazzspeaks.org Sánchez says she wrote the album's eight pieces with these musicians in minda pretty common conceit for jazz composers these daysand rather than focus on improvisation built around melody and chord changes, she emphasizes individual lines and counterpoint. As she said in the same interview, "There aren't that many chords, I think more in terms of lines that go together. It's not about people playing chords and a melody, a melody and harmony. It's many melodies in many layers, all happening at the same time. Each instrument has its own part, each has a personalized line."
Indeed, perhaps the greatest pleasure of Partenika comes less from individual solos and more in how the various written parts (and ad-libbed elaborations) all fit together. One of my favorite pieces is "Small Game," which opens with Sabbagh and Filiú playing a hocketeach individual part engaged in a kind of deft relay to form a single, unified linebefore the pianist jumps in with an extended solo at once skittering and utterly fluid. "Balada del Momento" thrives on an almost airless calmthat is until the pianist and Filiú improvise together, quickening the pulse and intensifying the intersecting lines. According to Ethan Iverson's liner notes the title track was influenced by some Greek street music the pianist heard near the Parthenon, but any sound she experienced firsthand has been thoroughly filtered through a modern jazz sensibility. You can check it out below."
-Peter Margasak (May 5, 2015)
"A marriage of moody yet calming piano seesaws, cymbal swells, and arco bass serves as the entry portal into pianist Marta Sanchez's Partenika. The feelings that come over the mind and body while taking in those overlaid ingredients during the opening of "Opening" must be like what Dorothy felt when she awoke in Oz or what Alice must have experienced when she went down the rabbit hole: in other words, it's like waking up to a whole new and wondrous world.
The spellbinding experience that unfolds at the dawn of "Opening" is but one of many on Partenika. The second number on the program"Patella Dislocation"offers another. After a rhythmically pointed and disjointed start, Sanchez and company enter an ethereal realm mid-track, only to be drawn back out as the rhythm section reforms around Jerome Sabbagh's saxophone. Then there's the title track, a piece influenced by Greek street music, with a probing introductory solo from bassist Sam Anning and the spotlight firmly placed on Sabbagh and alto saxophonist Roman Filiu; "Balada Del Momento," a harmonically sophisticated ballad-of-a-sort that's haunted and hazy and colored with maroon hues; and, a hair further down the line, "Andy," another ballad that alternately offers resolute thoughts and fragile feelings.
Sanchez clearly has no problem letting things go adrift, demonstrated repeatedly as she paints wide canvases with complex colors and emotions. But listeners shouldn't be fooled into thinking that this is shadowy music without shape. Sanchez and her musical companions also show determination and rhythmic focus in much of their work. Sabbagh draws the perfect picture of strength meeting elegance during "Andy," Sanchez shows her Spanish roots during her glee-fueled solo on the spry and invigorating "Yayyyyy," and drummer Jason Burger provides some hip groove work that outlines the curvy road on the album-ending "El Paso De Los Anos."
Partenika is an extremely enjoyable record that never goes to extremes. The more driven material never pushes too hard and the ballads are never mired in the depths of melancholy. Marta Sanchez always manages to strike a fine balance in her work, whether delivering a solid state song or something a bit more shapeless in nature, and in the center of it all is her striking and seductive piano work."
-Dan Bilawski (April 29, 2015)
"Marta Sánchez is a composer/pianist from Madrid, Spain, who came to the United States in 2011 to study at NYU. She had already begun to capture critical attention as a member of the Afrodisian Orchestra as well as appearing on recordings with vocalists Doris Cales and Natalia Calderon. Before moving to New York City, Ms. Sánchez had released a both a trio and quartet CD.
Her self-produced latest recording, "Partenika" (Fresh Sound New Talent) features an international quartet of musicians based in the United States. Alto saxophonist Román Filiú (Cuba), tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh (France), bassist Sam Anning (Australia), and drummer Jason Burger (California) are her cohorts on the 8-song program, one that will surprise listeners in its melodic and emotional range, in how the individual voices move easily and freely around each other, thanks to the delicate yet exquisite melodies and harmonies the pianist creates. Though she is the leader, Ms. Sánchez often cedes the initial solos to the front line, teaming with Anning and Burger to build the foundation of the songs. However, she has her moments. "Yayyyy" rushes forward delightfully with the pianist setting the pace for the saxophonists to play her contrapuntal melody. The piano solo is a joyous romp, a musical interpretation of the cheer inherent in the title of the song. There is much pleasure and little pain in "Patella Dislocation" (at least for the listener) which leaps forward on the throbbing bass notes and raucous drum work. Yet, listen to how Ms. Sánchez's piano swirls in the background (sounding somewhat like Myra Melford) and that sets the stage for the legato section in the middle of the piece. The title track, the longest on the disk at 8:49, opens with a long melodic bass solo before moving into a gentle yet uptempo piece. The rhythm section once again roams freely underneath the alto sax solo here, slowly down for the tenor spotlight (a solo ripe with percussive phrases amongst the lines.)
The ballads really stand out. "Ballad Del Momento" has a martial rhythm in the opening left-hand piano work while the right sketches the melody along with the reeds. Filiú takes the first solo, his breathy tone (a touch of Lee Konitz) soaring over the active rhythm section. Throughout the recording, the piano backing makes for essential listening. In this case, Ms. Sánchez not only frames the piece but also give Anning and Burger the freedom to create an ever-changing bottom. "Andy" feels like a prayer but, again, the bottom keeps shifting beneath the soloists. Sabbagh plays with great fire, his rippling phrases woven around the piano chords. Time slows down for the piano solo, a portrait of a restless spirit that soon turns into a dance as the bass and drums respond to the darting lines of the solo.
"Partenika" is a delightful recording that gives the interested listener much to dig into. Melody and harmony are important to Marta Sánchez but no more than the shifting rhythms that one hears on most tracks. Make sure to go back to listen to her piano work, especially her active left hand and intelligent solos that stretch across the canvas of this album. If you get the opportunity, see and hear this band live - it has to be a treat to watch the interactive nature of this music come to life."
-Richard B. Kamins (April 9, 2015)
"On the 2015 Fresh Sound New Talent release Partenika, pianist/composer Marta Sánchez introduces her New York City-based quintet, a thoroughly engaging outfit that should appeal to a broad stripe of creative jazz listeners. In addition to Sánchez, who was born in Madrid, the ensemble features France-born tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh, Cuba-born alto saxophonist Román Filíu, Australia-born bassist Sam Anning, and California-born drummer Jason Burger, a lineup reflecting not only the leader's global jazz perspective but also the continuing vitality of N.Y.C. as a locus for world-class jazz musicians. The City's creative jazz scene has provided myriad opportunities for artists like Sánchez to push their chosen idiom in new directions that appeal to adventurous listeners without alienating those with more straight-ahead sensibilities, and the pianist seems to have adopted this as a guiding principle on an album that ranges from lovely ballads to freewheeling escapades. She has noted that Partenika's music -- all of which she composed -- is based on contrapuntal lines and textures rather than melodies played over chord changes, and in her hands the result is an appealing marriage of creative jazz expressiveness and a classical sense of form. Sánchez's compositional strategy is clearly evident in the interactions of the two saxophonists, right from the get-go in Partenika's three-and-a-half-minute "Opening" as, supported by Anning's rich arco bass and Burger's cymbal washes, she repeats delicate yet insistent motifs and then Sabbagh and Filíu pick up the thread, tossing it gently back and forth before varying their lines and shifting the harmonic foundation beneath a solo that finds the pianist's fingers dancing effortlessly across the keys.
The saxophonists oftentimes engage in similarly tight yet fluid tandem playing across the album, notably on such numbers as the sparkling Latin-inflected (and appropriately titled) "Yayyy" and "Small Game," the latter of which features Sabbagh and Filíu mirroring each other in a back-and-forth hocket (as noted by pianist Ethan Iverson in the liners), overlapping and pingponging their connected phrases across the stereo field. "Small Game" requires precision but also maintains a jazz feel wholly unlike the relentlessly pummeling approach to hocketing sometimes taken by avant classical ensembles (e.g., Louis Andriessen's "Hoketus" as performed by U.K.'s Icebreaker on 1997's Rogue's Gallery), and its theme bridges beautifully into and out of Sánchez's and Filíu's stellar solo turns. Elsewhere, "Patella Dislocation" is fractured and angular, with great performances by Anning and Burger and a Filíu feature that carries the band toward spacious collective improvisation before Sabbagh escalates from low probings into urgent flurries and pulls his bandmates along with him; the title track is subtly elastic, flowing through its changes bracketed by a richly sonorous theme; and the album wraps with "El Paso de los Años," sprightly and packed with changeups, ending the proceedings on a high note. With Partenika, Marta Sánchez and her bandmembers have created a fine album for nudging open-minded post-bop lovers toward the unpredictable, and for avant jazz fans seeking something nuanced as well as challenging."
Dave Lynch -All Music Guide