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Poncho Sanchez: Do It!

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On his latest CD, Poncho Sanchez once again has one foot firmly planted in the Latin-jazz tradition while also striding into more modern fare. Sanchez’s great band is anchored by the exceptional bass player Tony Banda, who grooves mightily beneath the clave on the Chano Pozo classic “Tin Tin Deo.” Sal Vasquez on bongos and George Ortiz on timbales fill out the churning percussive undercurrent while solo standouts Javier Vergara on tenor sax, Francisco Torres on trombone and David Torres on piano and Hammond B3 organ add fire to this finely-tuned salsa unit. Special guest Hugh Masekela delivers rough-hewn vocals on the South African classic “Ha Lese Le Di Khanna” and on his own “Child of the Earth,” both of which he had recorded in the ’60s before his breakthrough hit “Grazing in the Grass.”

Sanchez and company turn in a reverent 6/8 arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “African Flower” and stretch out on Hubert Laws’ bluesy “Together.” An added treat here is the presence of the full Tower of Power lineup on their funky East Bay anthem “Squib Cakes” and on the raunchy, James Brown-inspired R&B number “Shotgun Slim,” both anchored by the legendary rhythm section of bassist Rocco Prestia and drummer Dave Garibaldi.