Sanchez, Angelica - Float The Edge
Angelica Sanchez piano
Michael Formanek double bass
Tyshawn Sorey drums
"You can often judge musicians by the company they keep. Float the Edge, the latest album from pianist-composer Angelica Sanchez, features her alongside two of the most sought-after rhythm-section musicians on the scene: veteran bassist Michael Formanek and rising- star Tyshawn Sorey, both acclaimed leader-composers in their own right. To be released via Clean Feed Records on March 25, 2017, Float the Edge sees this earthy, expansive trio perform Sanchez’s compositions, as well as several free improvisations. “A lot of what we do as a trio – and what each of us does living a life in this music – is take things to the edge, taking the risk to jump off without really knowing where you’re going to land,” the pianist says. “When it works, you feel like you’re floating – it’s beautiful.” Even the pieces she composed for the album were relatively spare on the page, giving the players room to imagine the music on the fly. “I didn’t want to have too much information in the tunes – I just wanted to set a mood that would inspire improvisation,” Sanchez explains. “Mike and Tyshawn are players who naturally develop the music on the spot, and I always have faith that they’ll play something better than I could’ve imagined. Also, unlike with a lot of piano trios, it isn’t just the piano leading the way all the time. I know I can play anything and they’ll run with the music, shape it. This album is really about going on a journey – for us and for the listener.”
Sanchez’s previous Clean Feed release, Twine Forest, presented the pianist in a duo with iconic trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Dusted magazine, reviewing this 2014 album, said: “Wadada Leo Smith and the superb pianist Angelica Sanchez produce a recital whose main ingredients are touch, feel, resonance and a real emphasis on the presence of a note, a chord. Smith’s trumpet playing is widely celebrated for possessing these virtues, but Sanchez convinces throughout with her musicality, restraint and creativity.” At 7:30 p.m. on March 25, she will celebrate the release of Float the Edge in New York City with a return performance in the Sound It Out series at Greenwich House Music School; the night’s double-bill will showcase Sanchez twice: first in the duo alongside Smith and then in the trio with Formanek and Sorey, playing music from the new album.
Sanchez and company recorded Float the Edge at Systems Two in Brooklyn, with the pianist producing the album, Joe Marciano engineering and Max Ross handling the mixing and mastering. About her trio partners, Sanchez says: “Being such a great composer, arranger and bandleader himself, Mike Formanek has huge ears – he’s attuned to everything that’s happening. And as a bassist, Mike has got the ‘boom boom,’ this big, soulful sound, with a natural sense of swing. He has played with the elders from the classic post-bebop tradition, like Freddie Hubbard, and that gives the music a foundation you can feel. But he’s also connected to the best contemporary players across the generations, so he’s always looking ahead. Tyshawn is a great musician, so intuitive and one of the most natural improvisers I’ve ever heard. He can play anything on the drums, really orchestrating and shaping the music.”
The tracks on Float the Edge reference fiction and folklore, nature and the world around and in us. Opener “Shapishico,” marked by rhythmic fluidity and a quicksilver solo by Sanchez, refers to a mythical creature also known as Chullachaqui, a shapeshifting guardian of the Amazon forests of Peru and Brazil that can take the form of an animal or a man. Starting with an extended, hook-filled Formanek solo, “SOWF (Substance of We Feeling)” references Dora Lessing’s novel Shikasta and its term for a quality of empathy that separated men from animals in a golden age. The hushed free improvisation “Hypnagogia,” which begins with a Sorey/Formanek soundscape, takes its title from the phenomenon of lucid dreaming, with Sanchez getting some of her musical ideas when experiencing this threshold of consciousness between sleep and wakefulness. “Float the Edge” and “The Traveler” are two more free improvisations, raucous and muscular by turns. “Pyramid” features Formanek arco as Sanchez unspools pearls of sound from the keyboard. The title of “What the Birds Tell Me” comes from all the avian music Sanchez hears in her backyard, with the balladic melody reflecting its inspiration. Complete with a Sorey drum solo, the mysterious, 10-and-a-half-minute “Black Flutter” ends the album on a high.
Reflecting on the creation of Float the Edge, Sanchez says: “Making a record can be bittersweet for me – it’s just a snapshot of one day. This trio, like most every group I have, sounds different on different days. But one thing does stay the same: I always have a blast with this band. We have fun with each other, and there isn’t a lot of talking about the music – we just play, telling our stories that way. This album is a collection of musical stories we were spinning in the moment, and the magic of recording means we can share them with listeners over and over, all over the world. That makes me happy.”"
- LabelClean Feed