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Poncho Sanchez: Trane's Delight

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Like many Latin legends—including Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Carlos “Patato" Valdés, Ray Barretto, Candido, Carlos Vidal and others—Poncho Sanchez is a percussionist. Born in Laredo, Texas, Sanchez has been a leading conga player and bandleader for decades. His big break came in 1975, when vibraphonist Cal Tjader hired him for his band. Before he died in 1982, Tjader urged Concord Records to sign Sanchez. The label took Tjader's advice, and Sanchez has recorded 27 albums for Concord over the past 37 years, winning a Grammy along the way. Starting with Poncho for the Discovery label in 1979, Sanchez has maintained a stunning consistency as a leader. Every album and every track I can think of is body-shaking and loaded with the most seductive Latin grooves sifted with top-shelf jazz. That's called great taste and a love of the listener. There's never any wheel-spinning with Sanchez.

Now the tradition has been extended to Sanchez's latest album, Trane's Delight (Concord Picante). The album, dedicated to John Coltrane, is more of a tip of the hat to the saxophonist than a retooling of his compositions. Only three of the 11 tracks on the album are Coltrane's songs—Liberia, Giant Steps and Blue Train. Hats off to Francisco Torres, who wrote the gentle mambo, son, bolero and cha-cha-cha arrangements throughout.

Sanchez has the most seductive conga rhythms, and his carefully chosen musicians follows suit in terms of playing tough but pretty. His vision for the sound he wants and the textures delivered are remarkable. If you're not keeping tempo with your thumbs on a hard surface while listening to this album, something is wrong. Trane's Delight is one of my favorite albums of the year and a must own. Bravo Poncho!

JazzWax tracks: You'll find Poncho Sanchez's Trane's Delight (Concord Picante) here. 

JazzWax clips: Here's Soul Bourgeoisie...



Here's John Coltrane's Giant Steps...



Here's Yammote...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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