Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Poncho Sanchez: Out of Sight!

If your four-year-old granddaughter dances spontaneously to the opener of a recording, something is right about it. “One Mint Julep” on Poncho Sanchez’s Out of Sight! was responsible for such happiness.

The most popular band in Latin jazz returns with a few young ones aboard, such as percussionist and tresero Sal Vasquez, timbalero George Ortiz and trumpeter Serafin Aguilar. The prospects get the dreamy task of sharing their initial foray into Ponchohood with special guests noted for their labor in soul music and R&B, with Ray Charles topping the list of special invitees on Out of Sight! (which Sanchez considers his best yet).

On the 1950s soul hit “Mary Ann,” Charles’ tastily aged vocals suit Sanchez’s heavy-handed, tight and steady conga backbeat. Delicious organ and piano comping, a rhythmically mean harmonica and rich sax and trombone solos punch up the R&B-influenced horn arrangement that characterizes this eminently danceable reinterpretation. Meanwhile, on “Hitch It to the Horse” legendary soul crooner Sam Moore and Sanchez’s congas trade compelling verses, which are heated by the flaming tenor sax of guest Pee Wee Ellis-and the funk is right on!

Both “Not Necessarily” and “Conmigo” heat up the working band, with Ortiz featuring a smoking contemporary timbale solo in the former and Vasquez getting warm with a Cuban tres spotlight in the latter. The album closes with “El Tambor del Mongo,” and Sanchez is joined by fellow Californian Francisco Aguabella on batas to honor the late Mongo Santamar¡a on the David Torres composition (whose overall work in this recording must be commended).

The hybrid SACD format does enhance the experience of this great music.

Originally Published