Performing, for the most part, classic tunes from the Jazz Crusaders' archives, Poncho Sanchez' Latin Jazz ensemble offers a mellow session with a little salsa on the side. Guests Wayne Henderson and Wilton Felder work together on only three tracks, and they blend quite well with the Sanchez horn section; however, all the horn players seem to have much in common. Over the past fifteen years, the horn unit in Sanchez' octet has always been strong; the personnel changes have been frequent, but the cohesiveness has always been there, and they function as one. Like the popular horn units of Blood, Sweat & Tears, James Brown, and Tower of Power, the Sanchez horn section works out on popular dance melodies, and functions as well with individual solos. The addition of the two Crusaders only serves to make the horns stronger. More information on the Sanchez ensemble's history may be found atwww.ponchosanchez.com
Individual highlights include trumpeter Sal Cracchiolo's soaring and fiery approach on "Prestame Tu Corazon," Alex Henderson's bold and brassy trombone solo on "Transdance," Scott Martin's spicy Afro-Cuban flute work on "Suave Cha," his lush tenor work on Johnny Griffin's "When We Were One," and, of course, the Latin percussion camaraderie throughout. For something different, Alex Henderson picks up the didjeridu to close "Freedom Sound" and offers some of the multiphonics that natural-log-turned-primitive-instrument is capable of providing. Sanchez' vocals on "Prestame Tu Corazon" and "Suave Cha" are quite candid and refreshing. This being Poncho Sanchez' sixteenth Concord release, with the future, no doubt, holding many times that number, the current general rise in popularity among Latin Jazz aficionados is sure to continue.