Poncho Sanchez: Freedom Sound
The band: Poncho on his Poncho brand congas and vocals; David Torres on piano; Ramon Banda on timbales and traps; Tony Banda on basses; Papo Rodriguez on percussion; Sal Cracchiolo on trumpet and flugelhorn; Scott Martin on reeds; and Alex Henderson on 'bone (and didirido on the title track). Jazz Crusaders Wilton Felder (tenor) and Wayne Henderson (bone) join on four (out of eleven) tracks each.
Henderson shines darkly on a deft Latinization of "You Don't Know What Love Is." The melancholia of the tune remains, but the congas make one able to dance away the sadness. Mournfully, as delineated by Henderson's solo. The trombonist is in a different mood on his own "MJ's Funk," which, as you may imagine, presents an altogether more hopeful, even defiant mien.
Poncho and his merry men (all sporting Poncho caps and beards?) undertake some interesting material here: besides "You Don't Know What Love Is," there's Johnny Griffin's "When We Were One," Kenny Cox's "Transdance" and "Latin Bit," and Joe Sample's tune that gave its name to the CD. The other tunes are just as strong, especially Poncho's engaging vocal on "(Baila El) Suave Cha," where Scott Martin turns in some sprightly flute work.
Well, my beard is not going to approach Poncho dimensions. Not yet, anyway. But Freedom Sound is a solid effort, and will certainly lead fans of Latin jazz to seek out more of the conguero's offerings.
Record Label: Concord Music Group