Poncho Sanchez

Freedom Sound

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Latin jazz's hardest-working conguero invites two of the original Jazz Crusaders, tenor Wilton Felder and trombonist Wayne Henderson, on board to graft their sound and a few old JC numbers onto his classic salsa ensemble. The results are not entirely lodged in Sanchez's camp -- the title track leans toward a 6/8 jazz feeling, and "MJ's Funk" is a more or less straight-ahead blues, both butting horns with Sanchez's domineering congas -- while "Scratch" has a cool Latin funk feeling and some spiffy solo tradeoffs near the end. But Felder and Henderson appear together only on three of the 11 cuts and Felder on one other, so this is only a partial tribute album at most. When the two Jazz Crusaders are not around, Sanchez's regular reedman Scott Martin, trombonist Alex Henderson, and trumpeter Sal Cracchiolo fill the breach quite capably. And should the faithful become restless, there is pure Poncho salsa in "Prestame Tu Corazon" and "(Baila El) Suave Cha," infectiously propping up guest "annotator" Bill Cosby's droll warning, "If this is your first Poncho Sanchez album, I advise you to get another job."

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