Drum giant Antonio Sánchez on 'Birdman' tour after album with Trent Reznor, Dave Matthews and Pat Metheny

George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

"When you are nominated for a Grammy as a jazz musician, you pay for your own ticket to fly to the Grammys, you book and pay for your own hotel room, and you even have to pay for a ticket for your wife for the after-party," he elaborated.

"All of a sudden, with all these film awards shows, they were flying me and my wife, first class, putting us in five-star hotels and providing a car and driver," he said. "It was very exciting while it lasted and led to my doing the music for the 'Get Shorty' TV series and more movies and even some commercials. Film awards are a lot of fun. But they have absolutely nothing to do with our day-to-day lives as jazz musicians, which seems like a much smaller world."

Sánchez's post-"Birdman" scoring credits include the British film "The Hippopotamus," written by Stephen Fry, and the Spanish documentary "Politica, Manual De Instrucciones." He is now working on the score for an upcoming British TV series, "Stags," which will air on Paramount+ in the U.S.

On April 26, Sánchez will make his Carnegie Hall headlining debut with a one-time-only quintet that features saxophonists Joe Lovano and Chris Potter, pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Larry Grenadier. In August, he will be in Mexico City to do the third edition of his Residencia Antonio Sánchez, which he created as a musical and intellectual exchange for advanced-level students and jazz professionals from Mexico and Latin America.

Then, after completing the music for the first six episodes of "Stags," Sánchez will perform some fall concerts in a new trio he co-leads with American banjo innovator Bela Fleck and Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda. That will be followed by an album with Ellipsis, a trio that teams Sánchez with Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez and Snarky Puppy band founder Michael League. Also coming this year is a new album featuring Sánchez by former Miles Davis guitarist Mike Stern, plus concert dates with the European-based quartet the drummer leads.

"I always have a few irons in the fire," said Sánchez. "But it's very difficult now, since the pandemic, for creative musicians. Because things are dominated by very bad commercial music and there is less and less opportunity for those of us who are not (in the mainstream)."


In addition to his Grammy for "Birdman," Sánchez has won three other Grammys for his work with Metheny. The guitar legend and composer happily sang Sánchez's praises last fall in a Union-Tribune interview.

'The ultimate drummer'

"One of the real highlights of my life was to spend 20 years — and, hopefully, more years to come — with Antonio, who is the ultimate drummer," Metheny said. "He is the drummer I thought would never be born. He is everything I ever desired in a drummer, and more."

Metheny, it transpires, played a key role — behind the scenes — in bringing together Sánchez and multiple-Oscar-winner Iñárritu on "Birdman."


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