Melaza (Sony Music)

David Sánchez

Released July 13, 2000

Grammy Nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album 2001




David Sánchez is one of the most renowned contemporary jazz saxophonists in the United States. In 1991, before turning 23, Dizzy Gillespie, invited him to join the United Nations Orchestra, an illustrious group that brought together the best jazz musicians from the five continents; and although Sanchez was the youngest of the orchestra, his résumé already featured performances with Miriam Makeba, Paquito D’Rivera, Hilton Ruiz, Eddie Palmieri, Claudio Roditi, and Larry Ridley Jazz Legacy.

After the retirement of Dizzy’s stages in 1992, David Sánchez played with jazz heavyweights such as Kenny Barron, Charlie Haden, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Steve Turre, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and McCoy Tyner.

In addition to being selected in 1992 by Slide Hampton, to play with the orchestra “The Jazzmasters”, Sanchez signed with Sony Music in 1993, to record with his own group. To date, he has recorded six albums, all of them for “Sony-Columbia” and in which famous names such as Danilo Pérez, Tom Harrell and Leon Parker have collaborated. His debut as leader, in Columbia, in 1994 with the album “Sketches of Dreams”, was followed by “The Departure”, (1995) and “Street Scenes” in 1996. His album “Obsession” (produced by Brandford Marsalis in 1999) and “Melaza” (2000) were nominated for the Grammy Awards in the category of Best Latin Jazz Album.

Track Listing:

1. Puerto San Juan (David Sanchez) 7:30

2. Canto a Loíza (David Sanchez) 10:15

3. El Ogro 6:27

4. Canción del Cañaveral (Song of the Sugar Cane Field) (David Sanchez) 7:02

5. Orbitando 7:15

6. Against Our Will (David Sanchez) 7:27

7. Centinela (David Sanchez) 8:02

8. Ueja Esta Cançáo 6:11


David Sánchez: tenor saxophone 

Edsel Gomez: piano

Hans Glawischnig: bass

Antonio Sánchez: drums (1, 3 to 6)

Pernell Saturnino: congas, barrels, percussion (2 to 8)

Miguel Zenón: alto saxophone

Adam Cruz: drums (2, 7, 8)

William Cepeda: percussion (2, 7)

Branford Marsalis: tenor saxophone (4)

Recorded February 11 – 14, 2000, at the Tarrytown Music Hall, NY

Produced by Branford Marsalis and David Sánchez

Engineer: Bill Winn

Mastered by Greg Calbi

Mixed by Rob “Wacko!” Hunter


In titling this album Melaza (“molasses” in Spanish), tenor and soprano saxophonist David Sánchez makes reference to the sugarcane fields of his native Puerto Rico. Noting that inhumane labor conditions produced an ironically sweet-tasting product, Sánchez sets a political tone, which he makes more explicit by dedicating the disc to “the African extension, the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the community of Vieques for its years of struggle for peace.” In keeping with this serious message, the music on the album, which draws deeply from Puerto Rican rhythms, possesses an extraordinary urgency. Co-produced by Sánchez and Branford Marsalis (who plays tenor on Sánchez’s epic “Canción del Cañaveral”), Melaza is powered by Sánchez’s working band: Miguel Zenón on alto, Edsel Gomez on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, Antonio Sánchez on drums, and Pernell Saturnino on percussion. Adam Cruz plays drums on three tracks; Hector “Tito” Matos and William Cepeda appear as guest percussionists.

Five of the eight tracks are Sánchez originals; these include the hard-hitting opener “Puerto San Juan,” the majestic “Canto a Loíza,” the manic “Centinela,” and the sly, swinging “Against Our Will.” Sánchez’s tenor solos have never sounded more intense, and his band, sharpened by months of live performances, is one of the best. Bassist Glawischnig contributes the lively and labyrinthine “Orbitando,” which features Sánchez on soprano and a monster percussion solo by Saturnino. Zenón’s “El Ogro” is another fiery track, and Milton Nascimento’s “Veja Esta Cançáo” closes the album on a romantic note, with Sánchez and Gomez reaching lyrical heights.

David R. Adler (AllMusic)