By Dave Cantor | Published December 2019
She has songs about ragweed, green ants, sunflowers and dead flowers.
New York-based pianist Marta Sánchez distills the natural world, taking in small vignettes and turning them into springy compositions for her quintet. And most of the band from 2017’s Danza Imposible (Fresh Sound New Talent) returns for her new release, El Rayo De Luz, with tenorist Chris Cheek taking over the spot vacated by Jerome Sabbagh.
A pair of tunes—“El Cambio” and “Unchanged”—chew over stasis and the push for something new, ideas that clearly ping around the composer’s mind.
“I thought a lot this past year about change, about all the things I have been [wanting] to change for years, about what remains unchanged, about how to make a big change, if it is even possible,” Sánchez wrote in an email. “I think both tunes, if [they’re] not talking about the same [thing], probably are related to the same chain of thought.”
Change and beauty come to bear on “Dead Flowers,” too, a tune prompted by a vase that offered a slouching allure to the composer. The shift from lushness to decaying petals seems to reflect Sánchez’s preoccupation with life’s little variations. The song itself—all moody prevarication—is a noirish sketch with Cheek bleating out an intro to a piano feature that’s both inquisitive and filled with life, but set against a dark backdrop.
If Sánchez keeps shuttling the gradations of daily life through the spectrum of her keyboard, we’re eventually going to wind up with a collection of albums that serve as a novelistic look into her mind—and likely be better off for it.