Percussion master Poncho Sanchez returns lovingly to his soul/R&B roots on Out of Sight,
roots which are dipped heavily in salsa. His band features seven hitters, plus some very special people are along for the ride.
A Latin arrangement of Ray Charles' rendition of "One Mint Julep" gets things going. Fred Wesley (misspelled "Westley" in the liner notes) plays trombone; fellow James Brown alumnus Pee Wee Ellis wails on tenor sax; the timeless Billy Preston lays down a juicy B3 groove; and the genius himself, Ray Charles, contributes some understated yet funky vocals.
"El Shing-A-Ling" features Sanchez's usual group, with its trademark brass arrangements, highlighted by the leader's delightful rum-and-gravel vocals. "Hitch It to the Horse," a tune by the fantastic Johnny C of "Boogaloo Down Broadway," finds Sanchez sharing singing duties with Sam Moore of Sam & Dave fame. "Saints & Sinners," written by Torres, features his wonderfully nasty organ work, and reedman Martin contributes a great tenor solo to the horn-heavy gathering. Ray Charles returns to sing his song "Mary Ann," which features more fine horn work by Ellis and Wesley, and guest Dale Spalding snatches a harmonica solo straight out of the Mississippi Delta.
On Eddie Palmieri's "Conmigo," Vasquez plays a guitar solo as though he can't get enough notes out of the instrument. "JB's Strut," written by Martin, is a tribute to James Brown, complete with horn riffs reminiscent of "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and Ellis and Wesley naturally taking star turns. More Godfather follows with Sanchez singing on the title cut, highlighted by Ellis and Wesley's spirited trade off. The closer, "El Tambor del Mongo," is a lovingly percussive Afro-Cuban tribute to the late, great Mongo Santamaria, featuring the venerable Francisco Aguabella on the bata drum.
Sanchez leads his band reminiscent of the way Count Basie led his: he sets the tone on the congas but lets his powerhouse band do the talking. Out of Sight
is an excellent excursion into the world of Latin jazz and R&B. If Sanchez and the band rocked as much at their recent gig at B.B. King's as they did on this disc, they must've brought the house down.
This review originally appeared in All About Jazz-New York
Personnel: Ray Charles - Vocals;
Billy Preston - Hammond Organ;
Pee Wee Ellis - Tenor Sax;
Francisco Aguabella - Bata Drums;
Scott Martin - Alto, Tenor, and Baritone Saxophones, Flute;
Poncho Sanchez - Percussion, Conga, Vocals;
David Torres - Piano, Hammond Organ;
Fred Wesley - Trombone;
Francisco Torres - Trombone, Vocals;
Salvador Vasquez - Guitar, Percussion, Bongos, Conga, Vocals, Tres;
Serafin Aguilar - Trumpet, Flugelhorn;
Dale Spalding - Harmonica;
Sam Moore - Vocals;
George Ortiz - Timbales .