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Keeper of the Flame

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Album Review

Released in 2001, Keeper of the Flame isn't a compilation, an anthology, or a best-of. Instead, this package finds Concord reissuing Poncho Sanchez' first two Picante dates, 1982's Sonando and 1983's Bien Sabroso, as a two-CD set. Those albums weren't Sanchez' first ones ever — before signing with Concord, the conguero recorded two LPs for Discovery in 1979 and 1980, respectively. Neither Sonando nor Bien Sabroso ever went out of print, and those who already have those albums on CD have no reason to acquire Keeper of the Flame. However, this double-CD is well worth obtaining if you don't have those albums on CD. Back in 1982-1983, Sonando and Bien Sabroso set the tone for Sanchez' Concord output — like his subsequent albums, both are dominated by instrumental Latin jazz but contains a few salsa vocal numbers as well. The noteworthy salsa tracks on Keeper of the Flame include the spirited "Este Son" (featuring vocalist Jose Perico Hernandez) and the infectious cha cha "Sonando," which is based on Ray Barretto's "Cocinando." As solid and rewarding as this material is, Sanchez would only get better as the 1980s progressed. But Keeper of the Flame reminds listeners that his association with Concord got off to a promising start with Sonando and Bien Sabroso.


Born: October 30, 1951 in Laredo, TX

Genre: Latin Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The imaginative rhythms of Poncho Sanchez have made him one of the most influential conga players and percussionists in Afro-Cuban jazz. In addition to recording as a soloist, Sanchez has been featured on albums by the Jazz Crusaders, Eddie Harris, Freddie Hubbard, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Dianne Reeves, Joey DeFrancesco, and Terence Blanchard. Becoming a member of vibraphonist Caj Tjader's Band in 1975, Sanchez remained with the group until Tjader's death on May 5, 1982. By then, he had already...
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Keeper of the Flame, Poncho Sanchez
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