Jazz CD Reviews

Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band – Live In Hollywood – Concord

A dazzling display of Latin jazz at its best.

Published on November 15, 2012

Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band – Live In Hollywood – Concord

Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band – Live In Hollywood – Concord Music Group CPI 341110. 55:33 ****:

(Poncho Sanchez – congas, percussion, vocals; Francisco Torres – music direction, trombone, vocals;  Ron Francis Blake –  Flugelhorn, trumpet; Rob Hardt – piccolo flute, alto & tenor sax; Andy Langham – piano, organ; George Dez – guitar ,vocals; Rene Camacho – bass, vocals; Angel Rodriguez – timbales; José Papo Rodriguez – bongos, percussion, vocals)

Conguero and bandleader Poncho Sanchez leads this high–octane band that has both power and dynamism, through a live set of Latin driven compositions that are delivered with energy and assertiveness.

From the very first notes struck on the congas and timbales of the opening tune “Promenade”, the audience at the Hollywood & Highland Summer Concert Series knew that they were going to be in for a rousing evening of finger–popping, hip-swinging Latin jazz delivered by a tight band under the music direction of trombonist Francisco Torres. The “Poncho Sanchez Medley” which follows is composed of three of his compositions, including “Mi Negra”, “Baila Baila” and “Bien Sabroso”. Each of these short gems gives a band member a chance to show his chops with tenor man Rob Hardt in full flight in the first section, trombonist Francisco Torres doing the honors in the second, and with a rhythmic change of pace in the final section trumpeter Ron Francis Blake provides his offering with incisive power, and Poncho Sanchez finishes off the track with a conga education.

Sanchez is not one to forget his antecedents. He pays tribute here to his friend composer/pianist Clare Fischer with a beautiful cha-cha rendition of his composition “Morning” lead by the soulful alto of Rob Hardt as well as a long thoughtful piano solo from Andy Langham. Mongo Santamaria was also an early influence on Sanchez and he receives his due with a vigorous performance of his tune “Afro Blue” driven by the piccolo flute of Rob Hardt. The set concludes with a wicked salsa entitled “Son Son Charari” with the band in full flight and the front line of Torres, Hardt and Blake exchanging eight bar riffs.  This album is a dazzling display of Latin jazz at it best.

TrackList: Promenade; Poncho Sanchez Medley; Mambo Inn/ On Green Dolphin Street; Crosscut Saw; Intro; Morning; A Ti Nama; Afro Blue; Son Son Charari

—Pierre Giroux

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