Taking a break from his stint with Pat Metheny, and still basking in the joy of being nominated for his soundtrack on the Birdman movie, drummer Antonio Sanchez presented his own band that mixed the chops of the latter with the well learned majestic lyricism of his former employer. He’s recently released two hot albums, with one of the albums, The Meridian Suite, being presented in its entirety by Sanchez’s band of Seamus Blake/ts-ewi, John Escreet/p-key, Matt Brewer/b and Thana Alexa/voc. The result was a kaleidoscopic journey of sounds and musical escapades that thrilled the crowd at the Moss Theatre.
The five part suite opened with “Grids and Patterns” which featured the fiery interplay between Blake’s earthy tenor, Escreet’s switching between piano and electronics and Sanchez riding the team like the leader of a rollicking wagon train. The exacting unison lines between Alexa’s luminescent vocals with Blake’s tenor on the melancholic and moody “Imaginary Lines” created rich and thoughtful textures, with the mood slowly changing as Blake went to his EWI and started forming sonic thunderous waves that rose and crashed to the shore to Sanchez’s drums, slowly ebbing with the foamy tide on “Channels of Energy.” Alexa’s voice, most of the time presented wordlessly(if you want to see how she handles a lyric, check out her wondrous debut album) floated delicately as Sanchez’s brushes served as a soft landing pad.
Soft dark clouds were delivered by Blake in solo form just before Brewer’s patient bass ambled in with Sanchez’s mallets and Escreet’s fingers pranced daintily on the piano just before the band shifted gears into overdrive for a whirlwind on “Magnetism of Currents” that had Blake’s blistering horn go mano a mano with Sanchez’s drums. The closing piece was the 20 minute opus “Pathways of the Mind” that gave hints of Metheny-esque lyricism and grandiose themes while Alexa and Blake danced together like Astaire and Rogers, coalescing with Sanchez’s tympani’s into an ethereal sunscape, galloping to the finish line in an exciting climax, with Escreet’s delicate piano ending the journey like the last closing ripples of the final curtains being drawn on stage.
The band encored with the lullaby “Night Time Story,” with Blake’s breathy tenor caressing the lyrics along with Brewer’s reflective bass, but the extra tune was played for one of the few times the crowd truly wanted more, but there was nothing left from the multi-dimensioned suite to give. On this muggy night in June, a happening really happened.
Check back for upcoming shows presented by the Bakery. Every one is a winner.