The Angelica Sanchez Trio – Float the Edge (Clean Feed)
Pianist Angelica Sanchez has been a key figure behind several noteworthy projects during the past several years, whether leading her own groups or collaborating with artists such as Wadada Leo Smith, Kris Davis, and Rob Mazurek. On Float the Edge, she applies her compelling vision to the piano-trio format with a work that’s by turns graceful, tumultuous and exhilarating. It certainly helps that Sanchez’s rhythm section consists of bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, two of the most dynamic and creative artists on their respective instruments.
“Float” is an apt descriptor. Sanchez’s gossamer phrases often seem to suspend over the rest of the trio, lending her melodies a ruminative intensity. You can hear it over Formanek’s bowed lines and Sorey’s delicate symbol splashes on “Pyramid.” Even on knottier pieces, such as “The Traveler,” the trio manages to convey a delicacy that tempers the melodic turmoil. Whether instinctive or by design, Sanchez also employs repetition, frequently injecting motivic melodic figures to break up the abstractions (e.g., on “The Traveler” and “Black Flutter”).
Formanek and Sorey each bring an orchestral quality to their performances. The pair develop an ebb-and-flow rumble under Sanchez’s quick-strike phrases on “Shapishico.” On the title track, Formanek’s bowed lines and Sorey’s skittering patterns heighten the anxiety of Sanchez’s staccato figures. Sorey employs a variety of textures — mallets and brushed cymbals on the appropriately dreamlike “Hypnagogia,” for example — that subtly shift the mood of a given piece.
Throughout these eight original tracks, the trio mates display formidable creativity, the brilliance of their spontaneous conversation matched by Sanchez’s thematic focus. But what ultimately sets this work apart is the fact that it’s as emotionally rich as it is intellectually satisfying.
— John Frederick Moore