Andy Boeckstaens previews the appearance by the Kenny Werner – David Sánchez Quartet at Ronnie Scott’s, next Monday 26th May:
One of the most intriguing gigs at Ronnie Scott’s for some time features a quartet fronted by pianist Kenny Werner and saxophonist David Sánchez. The two principals have worked together for years, but this band with Ricardo Rodriguez on bass and E.J. Strickland on drums is new, and together they are called The Unknown.
Werner is a versatile musician, as evidenced by the company he has kept over a long career. I first saw him with Archie Shepp at the 100 Club, roaring through some adventurous and wild stuff. The next time, he was at Ronnie Scott’s with a swinging big band led by drummer Mel Lewis. He had a long association with the now-retired Belgian harmonica legend Toots Thielemans, and recorded a live DVD with the wonderful, Chicago-based pianist/singer Patricia Barber.
Puerto Rico-born David Sánchez is a thrilling instrumentalist rooted in Latin music, and already a jazz veteran. He gained international exposure with Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra, worked in smaller groups alongside top pianists Hilton Ruiz and Danilo Perez, and won a Grammy in 2005 for his album Coral, recorded with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
Also from Puerto Rico, bassist Ricky Rodriguez has lived in New York for ten years and graced the stage with Branford Marsalis and Lionel Loueke. London audiences may remember him with Ray Barretto and Joe Locke, and he appeared at Ronnie’s a few years back in a band led by drummer Ignacio Berroa….which featured none other than David Sánchez.
When I heard drummer E.J. Strickland with Jeremy Pelt ten years ago, it was clear that he was something special. Since then, he has powered the bands of his twin brother Marcus Strickland, Ravi Coltrane, and Russell Malone. He brings intelligence and sparkle to every context in which he plays.
The combination of these four masters is a mouth-watering prospect. The Unknown Quartet is touring Europe on a thirteen-date tour, and should be firing on all cylinders by the time of their only UK show (the eleventh date of the tour) at Ronnie Scott’s on Bank Holiday Monday 26th May. Not to be missed.