Impressive improviser, who challenged the ears with his dominants and stalked diatonics with shrapnel speed, the saxophonist
Bob Sands has left at 55 and leaves his jazz indelible. Along with his technique he also had something of the softness of Ben Webster, caressing the note on delicate songs that did not need vertigo to penetrate the bones, a facet of his musical personality that shone especially in small formats, such as the quartet. At jam sessions he could pay tribute to Coltrane or Lester Young, and give way to the trumpet with the ribbon to stratospheric heights.
The father of a family, Sands was born in New York (USA) in 1966 and ended up in Madrid in 1992 for a season that lasted until the end. He made his living with music, without selling millions of copies and without filling large places, but yes
from the wisdom of the one who travels scenarios to which listeners surrender jazz (and others get bored with their mobiles). He brought depth to the music of others (perhaps the worst obituary is to remember that he played with Sabina) and shared his knowledge as a teacher. “Free lance teacher” called himself, although he went through several schools such as Creative Music in Madrid to Musikene, the conservatory of the Basque Country, always in matters such as harmony and improvisation in the field of the genre that he embraced since his youth.
Also composer and
author of a great album titled ‘Out and about’ (2013), he trained as a musician in the eighties at the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music (both in the United States). “The small group gives me freedom, while the big band gives me strength and thousands of sounds,” he said in one of his few interviews. Also performer of the flute and clarinet, he played with geniuses such as
Dizzy Gillespie, Gerri Mulligan or Paquito D’Rivera. It was coupled as one more to the big band, a format in which he felt comfortable. He founded one, named after him, Bob Sands Big Band, his true legacy.
Knowing the tempo and silence with which he wove textures in the standars, Sands passed away on Monday June 28 in Madrid,
to the bloody rhythm of a cancer that diminished, as the disease makes implacable, its resources. “It prevents him from continuing to work,” they explained in a fund-raising campaign. “This makes it impossible for him to lead a dignified life given the inherent precariousness of the profession of Jazz musician in Spain and the total lack of subsidies to support him in facing an uncertain future.
Sands had, before leaving, the pleasure of witnessing the admiration and affection of the public and several of his colleagues (led by Jorge Pardo), when they paid him a tribute in life, in a concert in Madrid a few weeks ago. Sands was part of that tribe of extraordinary musicians settled in a city that is close to the old guard of jazz.