Poncho Sanchez Warms Jazz Alley with Latin Jazz


Poncho Sanchez brought some Latin heat from California and energized the Seattle Dimitrious’ Jazz Alley stage with a different repertoire than from his previous presentations.

I saw a more energized Poncho Sanchez, sporting a shorter beard.

Poncho’s Presentation at the Jazz Alley

At the Jazz Alley, Poncho played music from Chano and Dizzy.
Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie

As I had hoped, Poncho Sanchez played a medley of the Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo repertoire and announced that his next recording will in fact be an album of the music of Dizzy and Chano with the collaboration of Terrance Blanchard on trumpet, as I had indicated in my pervious blog.

The Dizzy-Chano medley included their classics “Tin Tin Deo” and “Manteca”, both of which Poncho has recorded separately in previous albums.

Poncho started off the set with his now signature lead-off “One Mint Julep” which he recorded in his 2003 album “Out of Sight” and also included in his 2004 Live recording “Poncho at Montreux”. From his previous visits he repeated the “Willie Bobo Medley”, a favorite included in his Grammy nominated album “Psychedelic Blues”.

Poncho followed this with “Shiny Stockings” as a tribute to Frank Foster who just passed away a couple of days ago. Foster was a vital collaborator of the Count Basie Orchestra, and Poncho had recorded his standard “Shiny Stockings” in his 1985 album “El Conguero”.  Poncho continued the set with the Afro-Cuban “Shanko”, the Soul “Raise Your Hand”, and the Salsa “Donde Va Chi chi?”, the latter two songs from his 2007 album “Raise Your Hand”.

Poncho Sanchez at the Jazz Alley (July 2011)
Poncho Sanchez at the Jazz Alley (July 2011)

The Seattle audience has adopted Poncho Sanchez as a local favorite, showing this with an almost full Jazz Alley on the 1st set on a Thursday evening. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Poncho’s music is an easy blend of genres that go through Jazz, Soul, and Salsa, and Poncho and his band make it and enjoyable experience without taking themselves too seriously.

Poncho was a bit more communicative with the audience this time around, sharing the news of the upcoming new CD, and also random stories like the origin of the song “Chanko” with is a mix of “change” and some incidents that occurred during one of his trips to Japan when the song was being composed.

Unlike previous times, the set didn’t have a lot of danceable music, but Poncho mixes the blend of music he plays depending on the occasion. I attended the 1st set of the evening where diners predominate in the audience and he has tighter time constraints due to the 2nd set coming afterwards. I’ve attended shows where he makes it more danceable in the late show of the evening.

Expecting Poncho’s New CD with Dizzy-Chano Music

All in all, it’s always a good experience to go see Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz band, and I’m looking forward to the September release of his new CD featuring the music of Dizzy Gillespie and legendary Cuban “conguero” Chano Pozo.

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