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Poncho Sanchez is the Energizer Bunny, or maybe the Cal Ripken Jr., of Latin jazz. Since 1982, the veteran conga player and bandleader has turned out consistently excellent, high-octane albums on an annual basis for Concord Picante, some two dozen so far.
His latest, Do It!, doesn't mess with the formula that's made Sanchez's group one of the most popular Latin jazz bands in the world. The nine-piece band is a crowd pleaser, offering a bit of everything from Afro-Cuban bebop (Chano Pozo's "Tin Tin Deo ) to dancefloor-ready cha-cha (the leader's "Yo Quisiera ), toe-tapping soul jazz (pianist David Torres' "Short Dog ), and a Duke Ellington classic ("African Flower ). Throw in guest appearances by '70s funk icons Tower of Power and South African legend Hugh Masekela, who lends his evocative vocals to two of his own compositions, and it's a truly eclectic affair. But all these diverse ingredients are held together by the supremely tight ensemble playing of the seasoned group and the leader's fiery percussion.
With Do It!, one of the leading lights of Latin jazz does it yet again.
Track Listing: Tin Tin Deo; Ha Lese le Di Khanna; Do It; Squib Cakes;
Yo Quisiera; African Flower; Short Dog; Shotgun Slim;
The Kyper; Child of the Earth; Together.
Personnel: Poncho Sanchez: congas, gells, guiro, lead vocals; Sal Vasques: bongos, bata, chekere; George Ortiz: timbales, percussion; David Torres: keyboards; Tony Banda: bass; Francisco Torres: trombone; Serafin Aguilar: trumpet; Javier Vergara: tenor, alto sax and flute; David Urquidi: baritone sax; Tower of Power; Hugh Masekela: vocals.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.