We wanted to help get the word out about a new local publication: 504 Magazine: New Orleans Jazz, Blues, and Fusion Mag. Check out the excerpts and photos below from a piece on Poncho Sanchez and his recent collaboration with Terrence Banchard, written by Cynthia Gill Mitchell, with photos by Fredy Garcia.
With over 30 years in the business and just as many albums, Poncho Sanchez seems to be streaming easily to the beat of his own conga drums.
Over the years, Poncho has been recognized as one of the most influential conga players and percussionists in Afro-Cuban Jazz. Coupled with his stance as a solo artist, his work has been featured on the albums of some of our most notable in the business. This list includes The Jazz Crusaders, Eddie Harris, Freddie Hubbard, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Dianne Reeves, Joey DeFrancesco and of course, one of his long-time friends and collaborators, Terence Blanchard. On the heels of his collaboration with the late Tjader and his Band, and during their vacations, he would perform with his own group. During this period, Poncho’s many talents included his role as a bandleader. Also during this period, Poncho recorded his solo albums, “Poncho” in 1979 and “Straight Ahead” in 1980.
A Latin jazz superstar, Poncho Sanchez’s musical veins have been steeped in jazz and Latin styles since early childhood. Surprisingly though, his older brothers and sisters listened to all types of popular music and even introduced him to their favorites, but Sanchez is the only sibling who caught “the bug” and stuck with his multifaceted passion. Packed with his 30-albums and a package of success stories, he still remembers the rough climb. Sanchez never shunned the realization that in betwixt and between gigs, he still had to support his family. His passions never wavered, however, for he knew it was all just a part of the process.
In 2011, he paid tribute to the innovative Afro-Cuban recordings of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo by teaming up with trumpeter Terence Blanchard for Chano y Dizzy! “Chano y Dizzy,” which honors the Legacy of this pair of jazz greats, has hit the charts running. Poncho describes that “these two musicians were the pioneers of what is now known as “Latin Jazz.” “Chano Pozo was a genius. He’s considered the Godfather of conga drummers, and he’s someone whom I respect a great deal. And of course, Dizzy Gillespie was an iconic artist in American jazz.”.
Poncho and 5-time Grammy winner Blanchard has carried this amazing show on the road beginning in January 2012 up to now, consistently blending their individual sounds at venues all over. Most would agree that this collaboration is probably one of the best ever to depict Latin Jazz in such a unique form. With its “zesty,” smooth sounds, and the musical aid of Poncho’s long-time friend and fellow icon, no one would expect anything less from this duo. They make the usual “beautiful” music together this time around as partners on an album that is topped with a combination of “zesty” sounds from the past, coupled with unique renditions all their own. Poncho and Terence Blanchard are definitely making an impact with this 11-song set, which features songs written and performed by Pozo and Gillespie, and interjected with compositions by other writers that expound on the flavors of traditional Latin jazz.