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Poncho Sanchez: Raise Your Hand

If Raise Your Hand doesn’t turn out to be one of conguero Pancho Sanchez’s most popular recordings, it won’t be for ignoring a certain demographic, not with a guest list that includes such R&B vets as keyboardist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, saxophonist Maceo Parker and singer Eddie Floyd. Suffice it to say, the names in fine print are a big selling point in boomer town.

Of course, one needn’t have been around to witness the birth of soul music in the ’60s to appreciate what Sanchez and his handpicked cast of R&B greats have to offer here. The session invitees, after all, are still in fine form and the old hits are still worthy of another spin, beginning with the album’s title track, which features Floyd, Jones and Cropper joyously evoking the sound of Stax Records while collaborating with Sanchez’s Latin-jazz ensemble. When Junior Walker serves as the inspiration for “Shotgun,” altoist Parker bares his biting tone to bear on an arrangement that also calls to mind his old boss, James Brown. Parker enlivens “Maceo’s House,” too, which is built on both funk and clave traditions. Mixed in are son and salsa performances, and among the latter is the brash and contagious “El Agua de Belen,” featuring the great Puerto Rican vocalist Andy Montanez.

Sanchez has often celebrated a convergence of soul music and Latin-jazz grooves, as recently as his 2005 release Do It!, but as long as he’s able to bring this caliber of talent into the studio, who’s to complain?

Originally Published