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Poncho Sanchez

A major bandleader, a spirited singer and an exciting conguero, Poncho Sanchez can be accurately called the “hardest working man in Afro-Cuban jazz.” He and his popular band work constantly in Southern California and on tours, playing their colorful brand of Latin jazz with joy and swing. Born in Laredo, Texas in 1951, Sanchez was the youngest of 11 children. He grew up in Norwalk, Calif. and became familiar with Cuban and Latin music as a child. Sanchez sang with a local band as a teenager for five years and first had an opportunity to play congas while in high school. He played with various local groups while having a day job until 1975 when he joined Cal Tjader. Sanchez was with Tjader’s band until the vibraphonist’s death in 1982.

In 1980, Sanchez formed his own group, recording two albums for Discovery. Tjader recommended Sanchez to Carl Jefferson of the Concord label shortly before Tjader’s passing. Sanchez has recorded for Concord ever since, leading on over 20 albums. In addition to his three-horn, three-percussion octet, Sanchez has often welcomed guest artists to his recordings, including Gary Foster, Tito Puente, Freddie Hubbard, Eddie Harris, Mongo Santamaria, Wayne Henderson, Wilton Felder, Dianne Reeves, Joey DeFrancesco, Terence Blanchard, Chick Corea, Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis, Billy Preston, Ray Charles, Maceo Parker and Tower of Power. Mixing together bebop, vintage soul and R&B with traditional Afro-Cuban jazz, Ponchos Sanchez has built up a large audience through the years and is a major attraction in both clubs and festivals.