Poncho Sanchez, Latin and Classic jazz Artist
This week’s Featured Artist is a Latin jazz percussionist musician, band leader, conga player and salsa singer. He was influenced at an early age by two very different styles of music, Afro-Cuban music and bebop jazz. He taught himself to play the flute, drums, and timbales before deciding to pursue conga-playing. Meet Latin jazz artist – Poncho Sanchez
Born in Laredo, Texas, USA
Genre: Jazz, Latin
For more than three decades as both a leader and a sideman, conguero Poncho Sanchez has stirred up a fiery stew of straight-ahead jazz, gritty soul music, and infectious melodies and rhythms from a variety of Latin American and South American sources. His influences are numerous, but among the more prominent figures that inform his music are two of the primary architects of Latin jazz – conga drummer and composer Chano Pozo and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Sanchez pays tribute to these two titans on his new album, Chano y Dizzy!, his 25th recording as a bandleader on Concord Picante, set for release on September 27, 2011. For the first time, Sanchez and Francisco Torres, long time band member (trombone/vocals), join forces to produce the new album.
Joining Sanchez on the 11-song set is multi-GRAMMY winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard. It makes sense that, for this project, Sanchez recruited fellow label mate Blanchard, a New Orleans native who literally grew up amid the Cuban and Latin jazz scene and a longtime fan of the music’s multicultural underpinnings. Blanchard has established himself as one of the most innovative and influential jazz musicians and film score masters of his generation. As a film composer, Blanchard has more than 50 feature film scores to his credit. Currently at work on the score for George Lucas’s long-awaited upcoming movie, “Red Tails,” the Golden Globe nominee and four-time Grammy winner’s music was recently featured on Broadway in Chris Rock’s Tony-nominated play, “The Mother****** With Hat.” Blanchard is currently at work on the music for the Broadway remake of A Streetcar Named Desire and has also been commissioned by the Opera St. Louis for a project that will premiere in 2012. His latest CD, Choices, was released by Concord Jazz in 2009 to widespread critical acclaim.
“These two musicians were the pioneers of what is now known as Latin jazz,” says Sanchez. “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. I had the honor and pleasure of working with him on several occasions. These guys were the first musicians to bring elements of Latin music to American jazz – which has resulted in some of the greatest music of the last 50 or 60 years. I felt that it was time to pay tribute to them and their accomplishments.”
While the album includes songs originally written and performed by the two legends, it also showcases compositions crafted by other writers that capture the flavor of traditional Latin jazz. Sanchez’s touring band assists with the songwriting and arranging. The studio ranks include: pianist David Torres, saxophonist Rob Hardt, trumpeter Ron Blake, trombonist/vocalist Francisco Torres, bassist Tony Banda, timbalist George Ortiz, and percussionist Joey De Leon, Jr.
“The great thing about this band is that they take a very traditional approach to Latin music,’ says Blanchard.” They pay a lot of attention to the detail of the specific rhythms they’re playing, and they understand the historical significance of keeping that heritage alive.”
This biography is property of Concord Music Group, Inc.
Biographical information courtesy of Concord Music Group, Inc. and Poncho Sanchez; for more reading see links below.