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Poncho Sanchez: Freedom Sound

Douglas Payne By

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Pleasant, competent and earnest Latin jazz, notable as a return to serious playing for Jazz Crusaders Wilton Felder (tenor) and Wayne Henderson (trombone)—but little else. In Freedom Sound, conga man Pancho Sanchez has structured a sort of seq uel to the Jazz Crusaders' excellent 1965 Latin jam, Chili Con Soul (Pacific Jazz). But this March 1997 session is missing the soulful groove the earlier album delivered in spicy spades. Sanchez utilizes the tenor-bone frontline, even on tracks th at don't feature Felder or Henderson. And that's fine. But short of the Sanchez's congas, everyone else seems to be going through the motions on standard Latin numbers ("Brown & Blue," Kenny Cox's "Latin Bit") and Latin-ized jazz (old Crusader staples "F reedom Sound" and "Scratch"). Exceptions include the Latin mode of Kenny Cox's "Transdance" and Henderson's absolutely beautiful feature on the standard, "You Don't Know What Love Is." A bit of salsa on "Pretame Tu Corazon" and Sanchez' s own "(Baila El) Suava Cha" breaks the mood—but, to these ears, not for the better. It's a shame Joe Sample is still on the outs with Felder and Henderson. The "freedom sound" really is a triumvirate of the trio's understanding of each individual's st rongest assets. A strong leader like Sanchez could have brought their considerable 'Latin soul' strengths to bear. Unfortunately, Freedom Sound is a mild dish; not without it's charms but definitely lacking in fire.

Track Listing: Brown & Blue--2; Transdance; Aleluia; Freedom Sound-1,2,3; You Don't Know What Love Is--3; Prestame Tu Corazon; MJ's Funk-2,3; (Baila El) Suava Cha; When We Were One; Latin Bit; Scratch-2,3.

Players:

Personnel: Pancho Sanchez (conga, vocals); David Torres (piano); Ramon Banda (timbales, trap drums); Tony Banda (Acoustic and electric bass); Jose "Papo" Rodriguez (percussion, congas and bongos); Scott Martin (alto, tenor and baritone sax, flute); Alex Henderson (trombone, didrido-1); Wilton Felder-2; Wayne Henderson-3.

Title: Freedom Sound | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Concord Music Group

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