The music composer for the film "Birdman" at the closing of the Nisville Festival - Nisville Jazz Festival
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The music composer for the film “Birdman” at the closing of the Nisville Festival

The music composer for the film “Birdman” at the closing of the Nisville Festival

The music composer for the film “Birdman” at the closing of the Nisville Festival

Thana Alexa – ONA quartet ft. Antonio Sanchez

The music composer for the film “Birdman” at the closing of the Nisville Festival, American jazz singer, composer, arranger, and Croatian-born producer Thana Alexa will present her own project “ONA” at this year’s Nisville Festival on the last day of the festival (Sunday, August 13th). She has received two Grammy nominations for this project. Her husband, Antonio Sanchez, a drummer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, one of the most influential jazz musicians in the new millennium, and a multiple Grammy award winner, will also be part of the band accompanying her. He is also known as a long-time collaborator of Pat Metheny and the composer of the music for the Academy Award-winning film “Birdman.”
Thana Alexa was born in New York. She became interested in music at the age of three and learned to play the violin as a child. When she finished elementary school, her family returned to Croatia, where legendary jazz musician Boško Petrović noticed her talent when she was a teenager and became her mentor. During her studies at the New School in New York (where she graduated in psychology and vocal jazz performance), her mentor was the renowned drummer Bernard Purdie. For four years in a row, she appeared on the lists of the best young jazz artists of the famous “Downbeat” magazine (as voted by critics), and in 2014, she won second place in the jazz competition “Made in Nw York”. She released her first album, “Ode to Heroes,” in 2016, and with her second album, “ONA,” released in 2020, she received two Grammy nominations. The inspiration for that album was the intergenerational and intercultural stories of immigrants in her family, which evolved into an exploration of the experiences of contemporary women around the world. Critics and colleagues have rated her original work as surprising, highly successful, and an original blend of jazz, contemporary soul, and world music, primarily through the musical motifs of the region from which she draws her roots.
Thana’s husband and frequent guest on her projects (as well as she on his projects “Migration” and “Bad Hombre”) is one of the most respected jazz drummers and a very successful composer, Antonio Sanchez. Their significance in the world jazz scene was officially confirmed by their appearance on the cover of Downbeat magazine. Sanchez was born in Mexico City. He began playing the drums at the age of five and started performing professionally in his teenage years. He also studied classical piano and in 1993, after successfully completing his “classical story” by graduating from the National Conservatory, he returned to his first love – drums. He went to the USA and enrolled in the Berklee Jazz Academy and later earned a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. During his studies, his professor Danilo Perez recommended him to Paquito D’Rivera, who inherited the leadership of the famous “United Nation Orchestra” from Dizzy Gillespie, with whom Sanchez went on tour. Sanchez then became a member of Perez’s acoustic trio, with whom he played concerts and recorded the album “Motherland,” which received a Grammy nomination.

At one of the concerts, he was heard by the legendary guitarist Pat Metheny, who invited him to join his group… and that collaboration has been ongoing for over two decades. Metheny’s first album with Sanchez, “Speaking of Now” (2003), won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album.

Sanchez has performed and recorded with many significant jazz artists, including Michael Brecker, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, and Avishai Cohen. He has released nine albums under his own name, and on his debut album “Migration” (2007), he played with Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Chris Potter, David Sanchez, and Scott Colley. The reference site “All About Jazz” rated the album as one of the most successful debut albums of the year.

Sanchez composed the music for the Oscar-winning film “Birdman,” which was released as an album in 2014. The score earned him nominations for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score, a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Score, and a Satellite Award for Best Original Score. The only reason he didn’t compete for an Oscar for Best Original Music was because the film contained a significant percentage of classical music themes.

Links: ONA – Thana Alexa “Ode to Heroes” – Thana Alexa Project feat. Antonio Sanchez & Donny McCaslin Antonio Sánchez & Bad Hombre (ft. Thana Alexa): Tiny Desk Concert

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