World & Latin

Poncho Rides Again!

14 OCT 09 CHRIS SLAWECKI

Latin percussionist Poncho Sanchez recently released his 24th album for Concord Picante. Although it's titled Psychedelic Blues, it's actually a very jazz-oriented release. The set opens with a trademark Sanchez Latin groove through Herbie Hancock's classic (and often sampled, very covered) "Cantaloupe Island," followed by a cover of Freddie Hubbard's "Crisis" master-blasted by Latin trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval. Cast in a danceable mambo, Horace Silver's "Silver's Serenade" later illuminates its colorful union of Latin rhythms with jazz trombone, piano and conga solos.

Psychedelic Blues also reminds me that I almost always, and somewhat curiously, think of and describe Sanchez's music in terms of food. Some music, for whatever reason, makes me think in colors, but Pucho's music usually makes me use words like "sticky," "thick," and "spicy." This new "Willie Bobo Medley," which strings together "I Don't Know" with the tasty "Fried Neckbones and Some Homefries" and "Spanish Grease," sure sounds finger-lickin' good. Like well-prepared, authentic Spanish and Mexican food, Psychedelic Blues delivers extremely sensual, often quite lusty, pleasures. Maybe it's not that curious -- just look at all the food names in these few words.

There are too many fine albums in Sanchez's extensive Concord Picante catalog to fully detail, but its highlights certainly include Chile Con Soul (with guest Tito Puente), Afro-Cuban Fantasy, and Poncho's tribute to his first and most famous employer, Soul Sauce: Memories Of Cal Tjader.

in this playlist.