Poncho Sanchez

Baila Mi Gente: Salsa!

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Although instrumental Latin jazz is Poncho Sanchez's forte, the L.A. percussionist usually included one or two salsa tunes with vocals on his Concord albums of the 1980s and 1990s. Focusing primarily on Sanchez's salsa recordings, this excellent 1996 compilation spans 1982-1995 and draws on eight of his Concord albums. Sanchez is best known for his work as a percussionist, but the fact that he's far from a bad singer is evident on his infectious original "Baila Mi Gente" and versions of Eddie Palmieri's "Cuidate Compai" and the classic "Co Co My My." One of the disc's best-known tracks is "Sonando," a catchy cha-cha based on Ray Barretto's major hit "Cocinando." The exuberant "Este Son" would have been a better choice than "Soul Sauce" -- not because Sanchez's Cal Tjader-influenced take on that Dizzy Gillespie/Chano Pozo classic isn't enjoyable, but because "Este Son" is a better example of outright salsa. But despite that shortcoming, this is a highly rewarding CD that makes us wish Sanchez recorded salsa (as opposed to Latin jazz) a lot more.

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