Antonio Sánchez on Touring Political Music and the Latitude ‘Bad Hombre’ has Provided


Drummer and bandleader Antonio Sánchez recently performed music touching on the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border in Canada at the International Festival de Jazz de Montreal.

(Photo: Courtesy Antonio Sánchez)

But because of my dual citizenship, I think I have an obligation to see things from both sides, and there is a migratory crisis. But this isn’t the way to take care of it. And so my obligation becomes being outspoken about that. And I’m surprised how many jazz musicians are not speaking about it. I know many of them want to stay apolitical, but to me there is a very bright line right now between what’s right and what’s wrong.

Given the blunt criticism of Trump, is it safe to assume you’ll be staying on a politically conscious track for a while?

Well, when Bad Hombre came about, I didn’t know what it was going to be, and that was true of Lines In The Sand as well. I already know what the next one will be, though. It will be Bad Hombre, Volume 2, but super, super different in its conception.

I do want to continue in this political vein, but in this project, I’m asking different singers that I admire to provide me with a tune that has the theatric approach that I’m looking for. Something that has to do with human rights, human dignity or immigration specifically. Other than that, I don’t tell them what to do. I just ask them to provide me with vocals and a basic accompaniment, like a click track or something. Then I start building all the production around them. I chop it up, repeat this section later, all this kind of thing. Although they’re not my tunes, I produce them as though they were.

I’ve only finished one track so far, with an incredible singer from Mexico who only gave me her voice and cuatro, this little guitar, and that’s it. After I produced it, it came out so good that I realized I wanted to do the whole album like that.

Topicality aside, it sounds like Bad Hombre is developing into a full-blown persona.

You know what, I feel like Bad Hombre has allowed me to have an alter-ego that lets me do whatever the hell I want. It doesn’t have to be jazz, it doesn’t have to be anything. I can experiment with any idea. I’m fooling around with recordings of some bandas, brass bands from Mexico, and putting some weird crazy drums on top of that.

That’s what I want the Bad Hombre thing to be. It tickles my creative sense in a way that nothing has before. DB

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