Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Poncho Sanchez honors Latin jazz legends in Studio City Oct. 28

Conguero PONCHO SANCHEZ pays tribute to Latin Jazz legends


For more than three decades as both a leader and a sideman, GRAMMY-awarded conguero Poncho Sanchez has stirred up a fiery stew of straightahead jazz, gritty soul music, and infectious melodies and rhythms from a variety of Latin and South American sources. His influences are numerous, but among the more prominent figures are two of the primary architects of Latin jazz – conga drummer and composer Chano Pozo and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. With the help of Gillespie’s student, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, Sanchez pays tribute to these two titans on the September 2011 release, Chano y Dizzy!. The release marks the celebration of Sanchez’s 25th recording as a bandleader on Concord Picante and his 60th birthday! Pay your respects to the legends with Poncho and His Latin Jazz Band at VITELLO’s – Thursday, October 28th. Stage time is 7:30pm. Vitello’s is located at 4349 Tujunga Avenue in Studio City. For tickets call 818-769-0905.

Set for release on September 27, 2011 on Concord Picante, a division of Concord Music Group, Sanchez continues as the devoted purveyor of Latin jazz with the Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie tribute, Chano y Dizzy!. Joining Sanchez on the 11-song set is fellow label mate, multi-GRAMMY winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard, a New Orleans native who literally grew up amid the Cuban and Latin jazz scene. Blanchard has established himself as one of the most innovative and influential jazz musicians and film score masters of his generation. 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.

Sanchez, Blanchard and company set the tone early with an opening medley of lively Pozo tunes: “Tin Tin Deo,” “Manteca” and “Guachi Guaro.” Blanchard delivers down some sultry trumpet lines over Sanchez’s percussion and vocals, while the rest of the band lays down a solid and spicy rhythmic bed throughout.

The followup track is a simmering rendition of Dizzy’s “Con Alma,” with numerous tempo changes that give Blanchard room to flex his muscles in varying rhythmic contexts within a single song. Further in, “Siboney” is an old Cuban song by Ernesto Lecuona that’s consistent with the overall vibe of the record. The light-hearted “Groovin’ High” is a Gillespie composition originally conceived as a swing tune, but Sanchez and company rearranged it here to fit more of a mambo vibe.

“Jack’s Dilemma,” written by Francisco Torres, came together on the fly with a stripped down rhythm section consisting of Sanchez on conga and Joey De Leon on trap drums. “There are no timbales, no bongos,” says Sanchez. “The engineers in the studio sort of slapped together a drum set.”

The album ends just as it starts, with a staccato and highly rhythmic Pozo tune called “Ariñañara.” Recorded by several artists through the years, the song is what Sanchez calls “straight-up hardcore salsa music.” It serves close to a recording that celebrates some of the most innovative music to emerge from the 20th century.

“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 of course, Dizzy Gillespie was an iconic artist in American jazz. What I’m most proud of is that this music – while it may sound exotic at times – is from America. It was born in New York City, when Pozo met Gillespie for the first time in the mid-1940s – 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. They created something that didn’t exist before in this country.”

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