Poncho Sanchez, who came fame to as a conguero alongside Cal Tjader, roars in all of his salsa-fired bebop glory here, recording live at the annual Hollywood and Highland KKJZ Summer Concert Series.
“Promenade” — Sanchez’s show opener during this series, and a highlight from his recent collaboration with Terence Blanchard, Chano y Dizzy — sways with an early-evening sensuality, while Sanchez’s sizzling combination of “Mambo Inn” and “On Green Dolphin Street” re-invigorates both, just as it did on 1988’s La Familia.
“Crosscut Saw” adds a raucous blues vibe, while “Morning” (Sanchez’s tip of the hat to Clare Fischer, who also collaborated with Tjader) tippy-toes its way around a deeply soulful turn on the sax. Sanchez’s propulsive solo intro to “A Ti Nama” is a polyrhythmic wonder, arriving as if played in ensemble. Meanwhile, “Afro Blue,” with its chirping flute accompaniment, moves with an infectious mystery — making it a perfect tribute to fellow Latin jazz percussionist Mongo Santamaria.
“Son Son Charari” (memorably done by Bobby Valentin on 1976’s Afuera) ends the evening with a boisterous, party atmosphere — getting off to a fast start as Sanchez exclaims: “It’s time for a little salsa!”
But the set’s unquestioned highlight, for me, is the “Poncho Sanchez Medley,” feature for criminally underappreciated original works by the Latin jazz legend like “Mi Negra” and “Baila Baila” that’s been newly created at the behest of Francisco Torres, Sanchez’s trombonist and musical director.
Live in Hollywood, due on October 30, 2012, is Sanchez 26th album for Concord Picante — arriving 30 years after Tjader encouraged the label to sign the conguero to his own contract. Sanchez, 60, performs with a band that also includes pianist David Torres, saxophonist Rob Hardt, trumpeter Ron Blake, bassist Tony Banda, timbalist George Ortiz, and percussionist Joey De Leon Jr.
He is set to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Latin Recording Academy on November 14, 2012 in Las Vegas.
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