Albert Sanz Trio – O Que Sera
(Contrabaix KAR7835. CD Review by Sebastian Scotney)
Spanish pianist Alberto Sanz describes his album O Que Sera as “a dream come true”. He writes in the sleeve-notes: “I found out that Al Foster was playing in Valencia, my hometown. So without thinking twice, I went up to his hotel room and I said to him: “Mr Foster, I love the way you play and I want to make a record with you.” This trio album with bassist Javier Colina, with Foster, recorded at SEARSound in New York in 2011, is the result of that dream, as well as evidence of Sanz’s determination, powers of persuasion and musical calibre.
Sanz is above all collaborative player, who only occasionally steps forward to dominate. In the trio context he does this to very fine effect in the calypso-rhythm Desesperar Jamais, a song by Ivan Lins. He develops a Horace Silver-ish swagger, builds a brief solo from simple short phrases, but above all, rather than drawing attention to himself, he makes sure that a tune which he clearly loves is heard, cherished, and made memorable.
Another very fine moment on the album is Mar e Lua, a Chico Buarque tune performed as a slow, intimate, spacious piano/ bass duo. After repeating an opening solo riff, Sanz gives the first exposition of the melody with its gorgeous opening gambit , a candid rising major sixth, to bassist Colina. For us soft-centred folk it’s a moment of genuine emotional connection. It ends in a manner typical of this album, not with a flourish but in a wispy arpeggiated half-light.
Sanz’s dream is not a selfish one at all. On this album he has often giving centre stage to Al Foster. Pehaps it was the headphones I was listening on, but I get the sense that the foreground colour which Sanz absolutely wanted from his monitor, ringing in his ears, inhabiting his waking dreams about this album, was Foster’s bright-sounding insistent ride cymbal sound, particularly in the Ivan Lins tune Daquilo Que Eu Sai.
This is an attractive album, in which musicians are going to find a highly appealing selection of unusual tunes which ask to be better known. Hands up who knew Jobim’s Aula de Matematica, for example. It is a song with a deceptive, repeated echo of The man I love, played here unaccompanied. Similarly, the title track O Que Sera by Chico Buarque is one of those catchy repeated-note songs like Night and Day or One Note Samba. Seeing the lyrics in the sleeve-notes made me want to get to know the song better, and to hear a singer with a feeling for the words as well.
On the front cover of the album, Alberto Sanz is seen in silhouette under the Williamsburg Bridge, looking pensively out at New York’s East River. It seems an apt metaphor: Sanz seems happy to inhabit the shadows, to provide others with the classiest support they could dream of: delicate comping, consummate punctuation, sinuous counter-melody. Sanz has a wealth of good, unfamiliar songs in his armoury. With his strong musical personality, he is a pianist and arranger of real quality. He belongs alongside players of the class and the renown of Al Foster. Making this one dream come true should be just a start: as Alberto Sanz becomes better known, he will undoubtedly many more musicians’ and audiences’ dreams come true..
UPDATE 8th Aug 2013. In a filmed interview with Joan Antunez , Sanz talks about future projects, about peaks in music – Bach, the 50s/60s, about its limitlessness, about fresh starts, about discovery and the fear of failure.