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For her latest recording, a 2011 solo effort called A Little House (Clean Feed), she wrote knotty pieces with brooding melodies and stormy harmonies; on a few she added toy-piano ornamentation or bracing inside-the-piano rumblings. Her music is dense yet subtle, full of quiet details that require patience to fully appreciate. In her liner notes for the album, fellow pianist and composer Carla Bley writes, "Some kinds of music are best listened to alone and without distractions. I would place this very personal solo piano album . . . in that category."
Sanchez is equally effective in ensemble settings, where the particulars of her playing are less micro—she led her own killer band at the Chicago Cultural Center in June 2009, a group that featured her husband, saxophonist Tony Malaby, as well as drummer Tom Rainey, bassist Drew Gress, and guitarist Marc Ducret. I'm curious to hear how she'll fit into Pulsar, which promises to make bruising music (at least based on Mazurek and Herndon's work in Starlicker), but given that she's done an extended stint playing piano in Iron and Wine, I'm betting she's got plenty of ways to adapt to foreign surroundings. Below you can listen to one of the lovely pieces from A Little House.
Angelica Sanchez, "Along the Edge"
photo: Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET