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Latin Spirits

Poncho Sanchez

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Album Review

Much marketing ado will no doubt be made over the wonderful dream-come-true nature of the legendary conguero's pairing with jazz piano great Chick Corea, in a setting which brings the latter back to his roots playing with Mongo Santamaria in the '60s. And the two Corea-touched tracks are definite highlights. He wrote the jumpy, heavy-chorded jam title track, which finds him doing call and response with feisty horns as Sanchez pitter patters fancifully in the background; the piano improvisations between these interactions are characteristically mind-boggling, as Corea switches off from bebop to hardcore Latin ivory sweeps. He also tackles the frisky Wayne Shorter piece "Juju," dipping and swooping over and under the horns as, once again, Sanchez works up a frenzy all around him. But Sanchez' vision extends way beyond just the Corea songs, as he creates an exciting travelogue through various styles that go beyond just Latin jazz. "Sambia" is sassy Havana salsa all the way, but the bluesy "Next Exit" — featuring David Torres on piano — is what might happen if Ramsey Lewis found himself at a Latin jazz party. The fun part of being a percussionist is surrounding yourself with brilliant soloists, and Sanchez picks a true winner in saxman Scott Martin, whose rich baritone drives "Next Exit." "Going Back to New Orleans" is all party blues with shouting voices and a Dr. John-like vocal by Dale Spalding. "Quieres Volver" is a dreamy romance set firmly in San Juan, with strings and Sanchez' own raspy vocals. Tucked deep into the disc are two other can't-miss spots on the itinerary: the festive Manhattan-styled jaunt "Tito in the City" (an obvious tribute to the mastery of Tito Puente) and the funky, struttin' "Early in the Morning," which recalls Louis Jordan's Calypso jive circa the mid-'40s (also featuring Spalding on lead vocals). Just when you think this disc can't get any better, Sanchez delights in making every next note and tour stop a surprise.

Customer Reviews

Essential

The provided iTunes description gives all the details. This is a great collection of recordings, and a great example of how Poncho keeps your attention with great latin percussion and new ideas. I have played this often, and "Next Exit" is a favorite with not only a great baritone sax solo but a stunning B3 organ solo and sounds. This is much more than a samba!

Biography

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...
Full Bio
Latin Spirits, Poncho Sanchez
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