Poncho Sanchez & Gato Barbieri at Lehman Center


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Lehman Center for the Performing Arts continues its exciting season with a concert featuring two GRAMMY® Award-winning Latin jazz greats – PONCHO SANCHEZ and GATO BARBIERI – on Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 8pm. Conguero PONCHO SANCHEZ has led one of the most popular Latin jazz bands in the world for a quarter of a century, merging Afro-Cuban rhythms with the sounds of bebop. His latest Concord Picante release, and his 22nd for the label, is the exhilarating Raise Your Hand, which features fabled Puerto Rican sonero Andy Montañez on one sensational salsa track. Saxophonist and composer GATO BARBIERI has enjoyed a five-decade career navigating virtually the entire musical landscape with his instantly recognizable sound, from free jazz and avant garde to his ultimate embrace of Latin music throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, which spawned such hits as “Europa” and more recent recordings such as The Shadow of the Cat.

PONCHO SANCHEZ, leader of one the most celebrated Latin bands for over two decades, has been a passionate exponent of the style of Afro-Cuban Latin jazz pioneered half a century ago by such legendary musicians as Machito, Tito Puente and Dizzy Gillespie. His life story has become a well-known part of Latin music lore. He was born in Laredo, Texas in 1951, the youngest of eleven children, into a large Mexican-American family, and his mother is said to have fled at age 13 to the U.S. after hiding under the bed as revolutionary Pancho Villa stormed her village. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, Poncho absorbed a broad range of Latin and pop music, teaching himself to play guitar, flute, drums and timbales before settling on the congas. He became lead vocalist for an R&B band while still in junior high. In high school, inspired by the conga playing of Cuban great Mongo Santamaria, Poncho began honing his skills as a percussionist playing to Machito, Tito Puente and Cal Tjader records and later with local bands. He finally broke into the limelight at the age of 23 when he joined his idol, vibraphonist Cal Tjader's famed Latin jazz ensemble as percussionist in 1975. Poncho performed with him until Tjader's passing in 1982. A year later, already leading his own band, he began his unprecedented 23-year relationship with Concord Records, which has produced nearly two dozen recordings, including Latin Soul, for which he received a GRAMMY® Award in 1999 for Best Latin Jazz Performance.

GATO BARBIERI grew up in Rosario, Argentina, but entered a world of music when the family moved to the culturally sophisticated capital city of Buenos Aires. He began playing clarinet at age 12, and when a prized tenor saxophone came into his life, he began playing as a teenager with Lalo Schifrin’s big band. He also performed with such visiting musicians as Cuban mambo king Perez Prado, Coleman Hawkins, Herbie Mann, Dizzy Gillespie, and João Gilberto. Living in Europe in the early ‘60s, Gato began an avant-garde jazz collaboration with trumpeter Don Cherry, recording two classic albums for Blue Note. Returning to the U.S. in the early ‘70s, he recorded Latin-flavored music for Flying Dutchman, later signing with Impulse, which released Last Tango in Paris, his score to Bernardo Bertolucci’s controversial 1973 film, which won him a GRAMMY® Award and international celebrity. By the mid-‘70s, his coarse, wailing tone began to mellow on such ballads as “What a Difference a Day Makes” (the vintage bolero “Cuando Vuelva a tu Lado”) and his popularity surged with late-‘70s releases on Herb Alpert’s A&M label, including 1976’s enormous hit Caliente!, which featured “Europa.” 1997’s Columbia offering Que Pasa was the fourth-highest-selling Contemporary Jazz album of the year. 2002 saw his 50th album and Peak/Concord debut, The Shadow of the Cat, featuring Alpert on trumpet. In 2004, Universal Music released four new compilation CDs in its “20th Century Masters” series: Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Parker, Carmen McRae, and Gato Barbieri.

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is located on the campus of Lehman College at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY 10468. Tickets for PANCHO SANCHEZ & GATO BARBIERI on Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 8pm, are: $45, $35, $25 and $20 and can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718.960.8833 (Mon. through Fri., 10AM–5PM, and beginning at 12 noon on the day of the concert), or through 24-hour online access at www.LehmanCenter.org. Lehman Center is accessible by #4 or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. and is off the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway. Free parking is available.

Lehman Center receives support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts.

For additional information, photos, interview requests, contact: Leah Grammatica / LGPR / 212.243.6052 / [email protected]

This story appears courtesy of Leah Grammatica Public Relations.
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