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Alt.Latino Guest DJ Antonio Sanchez: Jazz Drummer, Musical Activist

Justin Bettman
Courtesy of the Artist

The jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez is much more than that job title suggests. With over 15 years playing for guitarist Pat Metheny and a handful of albums under his own name, Sanchez certainly fits the role of jazz cat.

Listen closely to his playing, though, and you'll be hearing the expansion of percussion's role in music; a sonic, and melodic, experience that defies categories. This talent is maybe best expressed within the work Sanchez put into the soundtrack for Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu's 2014 film Birdman, which he composed entirely of drum improvisations that exquisitely mirror the intense emotions of the film.

His new record, Bad Hombre, is an exploration of the interplay between his drum set and electronics and, as the title suggests, a personal statement on the current U.S. president's controversial statements during the campaign about Mexico and Mexicans.

How does Sanchez take on what he perceived as national and personal slights with instrumental music?

Listen to this week's show for the fascinating answer and hear what it took to become a jazz fan and musician in the land of mariachi and Rock en Español.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.
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