Editor’s Pick · Featured Album
Poncho Sánchez continues his long tribute to the ancestors of the music he knows and plays so well with Trane’s Delight. This follows his impeccable album entitled Chano y Dizzy (Concord Picante, 2011), with Terence Blanchard and the superb live recording, Live in Hollywood (Concord Picante, 2012). This Trane homage is unique in that Mr Sánchez digs into his own roots to make his tribute heard. Songs from the legendary saxophonist’s repertoire such as “Liberia” and “Giant Steps” have been smartly re-arranged to slide into the Afro-Caribbean (musical) canon and the other direct tribute, “Blue Trane”, comes from a play on the title of Mr Coltrane’s iconic album Blue Train (Blue Note, 1958).
The quaint story about how he was first dumbstruck by Trane’s music apart, Mr Sánchez has crafted a superb album once again. And while some may feel it is a somewhat oblique homage to the tenor saxophonist the idea here is to doff the proverbial hat to the masters who seduced Mr Sánchez into making music his mistress. The repertoire that makes up this album continues to showcase Mr Sánchez’s mastery of the Afro-Caribbean idiom with all its nuances. There are few percussionists in Continental USA who play with his virtuosity on what has now come to be called the congas (the Cubans still refer to the drum as tumbadora and we must say so in deference to the great Tata Guïnes, who let it be known that his instrument was just that so much so that acolytes such as Yaroldy Abreu insist upon calling the drum by that name).
And Mr Sánchez is also much more than an instrumentalist. His writing captures both the idiom of Afro-Caribbean music not only by ornamenting the shape of its many dancing forms but also in imbuing its blithe spirit as well. His playing is robust and muscular. He is able to use the full face of the drum and with hands – with fingers and fists (even elbows) – moving with extraordinary precision he is able to beat and caress the skin of the drum, coaxing a magical array of tones and colours from it. The pacing of songs also helps ringing by the changes – of pace and emotion – Mr Sánchez is able to create music that is dark and light, spirant and quiet. Such dramatic changes are superbly showcased in music as varied as “Giant Steps”, “Blue Train” and in “Poncho Sánchez Medley #2”.
As always, Mr Sánchez is accompanied by an outstanding ensemble that includes old partners in music such as bassist René Camacho, Francisco Torres and Andy Langham (the last two musicians make significant contributions to this music), and new ones, one of the most outstanding of whom is the kalimba player Cornelius Alfredo Duncan, who shines on “Sube” which is played in the blistering measure of 6/8. Mr Sánchez is himself outstanding on “Si Te Dicen”, where his raspy vocalastics take centre-stage. All in all this is music that most artists dream of creating. Not surprisingly it is all from the hands of Mr Sánchez and his marvellous friends.
Track list – 01: Soul Bourgeoisie; 02: Liberia; 03: The Feeling Of Jazz; 04: Giant Steps; 05: Si Te Dicen; 06: Sube; 07: Blue Train; 08: Yam’mote; 09: Poncho Sanchez Medley #2; 10: Trane’s Delight; 11: Todo Terminó
Personnel – Ron Blake: trumpet and flugelhorn; Robert Hardt: flute, alto and tenor saxophones; Francisco Torres: compositions, arrangements, musical direction, trombone and vocals; Andy Langham: compositions and piano; Cornelius Alfredo Duncan Jr: kalimba; René Camacho: bass; Ross Schodek: bass; Joey De Leon Jr: percussion, timbales and background vocals; Poncho Sánchez: leader and producer; composer, congas, percussion and vocals; Norell Thomson: vocals; Jorge Velasco: engineer; Luis Henao: recording director; Ivory Daniel: executive producer
Released – 2019
Label – Universal Music
Runtime – 1:03:37