An artist as curious as Marta Sánchez is always seeking to evolve her sound. After releasing four records as a leader and multiple others as a collaborator, the Madrid-born pianist and composer has challenged herself to pursue a new writing frontier, one that incorporates the works of other artists within her own compositions.
A project several years in the making, Room Tales represents a creative exercise in layering textures and mingling art forms, using poetic texts to complete Sánchez’s sound world. She began composing the music for Room Tales before releasing her most recent record Danza Imposible in October of 2017, keeping both projects—that feature different ensembles—separate from one another as she worked through compositions for each. We caught up with Sánchez to discuss her approach to working with texts, and how the work has evolved throughout the writing process.
The Jazz Gallery: Would you identify the poets and poetic works you’ve chosen for this project?
Marta Sánchez: I’m not sure about the whole repertoire that we are going to play [at the Gallery], but we have poems from Maya Angelou, Charles Bukowski, Gioconda Belli, Silvia Plath, George Craddock, Rabindranath Tagore and Idea Vilariño.
TJG: What sparked your desire to include poetic texts in your music, and also when did you conceive of this project?
MS: I started composing for voice maybe a few years ago. I had a sextet, which was more or less the same [as my quintet] but with vibraphone. We did a few gigs with that; I wrote some lyrics and I used also other lyrics, and was interested in working more with voices. [But I found] with the sextet it was a little too hard—with vibraphone and everything, it makes everything harder and more expensive. Then also, with the whole political scene, these times we’re living in and the women’s movement, I was interested in using texts of women poets. But in the end, I found other poems by men that were significant for me, and I decided that I wasn’t going to be exclusive with gender. So I guess I was interested in doing something with voice, and I found taking texts of poems that were important for me was the way to do it, because the texts were going to be way more powerful than lyrics [I would write because] I’m not a poet.
TJG: It sounds like there was a real transformation in your conception as you started going through these poems.
MS: Exactly. I think I started writing some lyrics—I mean this project didn’t come suddenly; it was an evolution. I also wanted to record with a singer from Spain, Lara Bello; we wanted to do songs based on poems of female Spanish poets, and we recorded a few songs. From then, it was a kind of evolution I’ve been doing here and there. I also wrote music and did one gig with another formation, a quartet with two voices, so it has been something progressive.