Poncho Sanchez

Out of Sight!

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The legendary conguero may be known as one of the modern kings of all jazz that's Latin, but he's also an old-school soul junkie at heart, having grown up in southern California in the '60s; while he was learning to play tropical Latin music professionally, his radio was full of classic Stax and Motown. Increasingly aware that classic R&B songs adapt well to the jazzy cha cha tempos that drive his ensemble, Sanchez evolves beautifully on the new collection into a style of Latin soul that's truly compelling. The opening track, the funky, brass-driven cha cha "One Mint Julep," features not only the organ arpeggios of Billy Preston, but also two of the horn guys from the James Brown band, Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis. "JB's Strut" funks out with the horniest of them, but Brown is paid even greater homage on blues/soul/big-band/Latin renderings of three of his tunes, "Saints and Sinners," "Out of Sight" (sung with a tongue-in-cheek Brown bravura by Sanchez), and "Conmigo." And while he's at it, Sanchez invites two legendary soul men to make things even more authentic. Sam Moore has a blast with the sassy "Hitch It to the Horse," while Ray Charles adds his whimsical touch to the salsified blues tune "Mary Ann." The remaining question is, just where is the Godfather of Soul himself? Hopefully, he's proud of one of the most unique tributes to him ever fashioned.

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