January/February 1999

Poncho Sanchez
Afro-Cuban Fantasy
Concord Picante

Poncho Sanchez and Dianne Reeves? What a concept! As it turns out, the exuberant singer makes good company for Sanchez's 18th recording for the Concord Picante label. Sanchez treads some new ground here in presenting some of composer Clare Fischer's songs in new Latin settings: His "I Remember Spring" (written with Lester Wintz,) is played with a bossa nova flair. "Morning," which Sancez has played in the past as a cha cha, has instead a son feeling and features the characteristic 6/8 and 4/4 rhythmic changes of Cuban music. Latin music authority Maz Salazar contributes well-written and illuminating liner notes for armchair musicologists, although describing "I Remember Spring" as a samba is a stretch.

"Subway Harry" is an amusing nod to Harry Sepulveda, whose subway record store located below Times Square has been a mecca for international Latin music enthusiasts for the past three decades. It's interesting to note that the heavy groove of this number is far more reminiscent of fusion-era Ramsay Lewis than of any Latin recording. And why not? The Latin "stew" just gets more and more interesting with Sanchez in charge.

Originally published in January/February 1999
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