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¡Poncho y Terry!

20 OCT 11 JOHN C. BRUENING

Percussionist Poncho Sanchez may have dabbled in the distinctly North American sounds of soul and R&B throughout his career, but his commitment to (and his reverence for) the roots of Latin music has never wavered. Poncho and trumpeter Terence Blanchard -- a New Orleans native who grew up in the heart of the Cuban and Latin music scene -- have crafted an album that pays tribute to two of the most influential figures in Latin jazz, conga drummer and composer Chano Pozo and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Filled with music either written by or inspired by these two titans, Chano y Dizzy! recaptures the seminal period in the mid 20th century when cultural and musical elements merged so seamlessly to create an enduring sound.

Old-school fans will be satisfied with high-energy Pozo tunes like "Tin Tin Deo," Manteca" and "Guachi Guaro" (all woven into a single medley as the leadoff track) and the highly rhythmic "Ariñañara," as well as Dizzy compositions like the simmering "Con Alma" and the bright-sounding "Groovin' High." But the set also features compositions written in the spirit of Dizzy and Chano, if not directly by them. Check out the Ernesto Lecuona classic, "Siboney," or the lean-sounding "Jack's Dilemma," a song penned by trombonist and vocalist Francisco Torres, a veteran member of Poncho's band.

"To me, Latin jazz is the world's greatest music," said Poncho. "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 Chano Pozo met Dizzy Gillespie for the first time in the mid-1940s. They created something that didn't exist before in this country."

Seven decades after Chano and Dizzy, Poncho and Terence are carrying the torch.