LOCAL LIVE! In Denver, About Denver, Musically Denver!!!!
August 24, 2009
Denver Botanic Gardens
Poncho Sanchez is the state of the art in Latin Jazz these days. Since the passing of Tito Puente in 2000, Sanchez has ascended to the top of the list of active players in terms of popularity, exuberance and the undeniable Latin rhythm. By the end of Sanchez’ second set Monday night at the Botanic Gardens the only ones not dancing were the infirm, the topiary and a couple of hockey fans.
Of the three generally recognized musical elements, rhythm, melody and harmony, jazz places its emphasis on rhythm first and lets the others follow. Latin jazz takes that to the nth degree. The Poncho Sanchez Band includes three percussionists as well as a bass player and keyboards which, even more than a traditional jazz band, is primarily a rhythm instrument in this band. Rounding out the group is a three piece horn section (trumpet, trombone and reeds (alto, tenor, flute)) which spends a significant amount of time punctuating the proceedings with staccato blasts. Indeed, the rhythm is the thing, the main thing.
Sanchez is a conguero, but he plays other assorted percussion instruments in addition. As the leader, he gets to sit front and center on stage, emphasizing even more (if that’s possible) the fact that the band is here for the beat. They apply that rhythm to a variety of styles; and they make them all move. Salsa is obviously heavily represented, but so are bebop, soul and even funk. The Willie Bobo medley had some of the greasiest grooves of the evening with tunes like “Fried Neckbones and Some Homefries.” Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia” and Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” provided some firm ground for the jazz oriented listeners. Throughout the evening, the horn section dabbled with funk. But it was in the encore that they let it rip with a medley that started with “Shotgun” and then, removing all doubt that this is an ensemble that can get as funky as humanly possible, they broke out “Cold Sweat.” Brown, James Brown. Sanchez’ 23rd album on the Concord label, “Psychedelic Blues” is due to be released at the end of September and several of the tunes he played Monday night will be on it including the Willie Bobo medley, “Cantaloupe Island” and “Con Sabor Latino.” Between the steady output of CDs and a consistent touring schedule, Sanchez continues to keep everybody dancing.
Con Sabor Latino Willie Bobo Medley
A Night in Tunisia Raise Your Hand Second set
Cantaloupe Island El Congeruo Sambroso Salsa medley
Shotgun/Cold Sweat/Funky Broadway/Tighten Up
Poncho Sanchez, congas, percussion, vocals
David Torres, keyboards, musical director
George Ortiz, timbales
Joey De Leon, bongos, percussion, vocals
Tony Banda, bass, vocals
Javier Vergara, saxophones, flute
Ron Blake, trumpet, flugelhorn
Francisco Torres, trombone