Kevin Sanchez in The SA Express News
Latin Notes: Bringing indie jazz to North Side
By Hector Saldana
Deep down, it still guides the jazz promoter.
“That might have had some effect on my subconscious,” said Sanchez, 31, who was born in Panama City (but raised in San Antonio since grade school) and is well-known on-air at Trinity's 91.7 KRTU-FM.
He has moved on from his “Live and Local” radio gig and is focusing on his long-running “The Graveyard Shift,” which spins indie music overnight. But he's also of late been promoting eclectic jazz shows at 502 Bar.
They happen on the last Tuesday of the month. Coming off this weekend's Jazz'SAlive, the timing couldn't be better for next week's latest edition of “Indie Jazz Nite.”
On the bill are Brown's Fever (9 p.m.), Earle's Cleric featuring actor Jackie Earle Haley (10:30 p.m.) and Kirlian (11:45 p.m.). Cover is $2.
Saxophonist Cody Brown, who plays with the Air Force Band of the West, leads Brown's Fever and the electronic music group Kirlian.
The concept of the monthly show is to feature a straight-ahead jazz act to anchor the show, then include “jazzy or jazz-influenced, but not strictly jazz” musicians on the bill.
“I want it to be indie jazz, a mix of stuff. That's the ideas for it,” Sanchez said.
That has led to nights where funk bands play with jazz groups. One of the best nights was when an Austin band performed Radiohead's “Kid A” in its entirety.
“It's been increasingly successful,” said Sanchez. “We've had some really bad nights with nobody but the barkeep and maybe a handful of people.”
He's determined to make it work.
“I really want jazz to be there. It doesn't seem that there's a lot of jazz on the North Side. It seems coagulated downtown,” Sanchez said. “About as far north as it gets tends to be is Luna, and I really thought there were people in that area that might like a jazz show.”
It should be noted that Sanchez cares not a lick (or at least, not too much) for Tejano and Tex-Mex music or adding it to his mix.
“I never liked Tejano growing up,” he said.
But he sees the connection between some of the West Side-style music and the “outside jazz” that he heralds.
“A lot of that is improvisational music, and there's a lot of space for solos that are really complex,” Sanchez said.
Though he doesn't yet have his own jazz show on KRTU, Sanchez said he's gunning for one. He's equally interested in the possibilities of weirder, louder jazz mash-ups onstage.
“I really like jazz, and I really like the crossover effect,” he explained.
That “crossover effect” can be pretty jarring. “Someone that's listening to jazz a lot might not listen to a hardcore band, but if I put them after a jazz group, then you sort of see how 'That drummer is really awesome.' And it sort of opens people up a little bit to the idea.”
It's not easy promoting indie jazz in a city primarily known for Tejano, Tex-Mex, conjunto and mariachi. But Sanchez's shows are evidence of S.A.'s burgeoning niche scenes.
“It is really hard, but most of the difficulties are just practical,” Sanchez said. “We're in a town with more than a million people, but it doesn't feel like that. We're spread out. It feels like a mini-L.A.”