Having spent significant time with Gary Burton and roughly 13 years with Pat Metheny, Sanchez establishes his own unique voice as a drummer that while "lyrical" has the innate gift of moving from controlled sonic fury to deceptively subtle nuances that add but another layer of texture to some tunes with complex rhythmic patterns, odd time signatures but never lacking in melody and most importantly groove. While musical comparisons are inherently unfair think early Jack DeJohnette. Aside from the incredible musicianship on display from Sanchez and his top flight ensemble, the diversity in composition gives an organic life and a new dimension to the Sanchez sound most listeners are familiar with from his work with Burton and Metheny. This is different. Different is good!
Opening with "Uprisings and Revolutions" which was intended to start as a more placid ballad morphed into a new realm of harmonic dimension with the inspiration of Arab Spring. A captivating dynamic tension builds yet never leaving the land of rhythm and groove Sanchez so carefully lays down. "Nightime Story" is somewhat of a Wayne Shorter inspired ballad as is "Air" while lyrically beautiful there is a dynamic tension created where Sanchez seems intent on taking the ballad road less traveled. Taking the inspiration of a Wayne Shorter and doing your own composition riff on such an iconic figure while establishing your own lyrical path is indeed a beautiful thing. "Family Ties" is a personal favorite and for Sanchez is an attempt to capture the family drama we all go through at times but without forgetting the unity that binds a family together. A buoyant and happy tune that fits in perfectly with the at times eclectic mix but consistent ebb and flow of this stellar release. An interesting side note being vocalist Thana Alexa recently became the fiancee of Antonio Sanchez so congratulations to both. While the band is first rate across the board, Alexa's soaring vocals are spot on and a brilliant addition to the ensemble cast.
For the passive listener this is a most impressive outing, for drummers New Life is a master class in composition, dynamics and the mastery of subtle nuances needed to make a good release a great release!
Tracks: Uprisings and Revolutions; Minotauro; New Life; Nighttime Story; Medusa; The Real McDaddy; Air; Family Ties.
Personnel: Antonio Sanchez: drums; Dave Binney: alto sax; Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone; John Escreet; Matt Brewer: bass; Thana Alexa: voice.