Soul of the Conga is the great follow-up release to Poncho Sanchez's Grammy Award winning CD Latin Soul, and it is every bit as soulful and special. As his 20th CD as a bandleader, (his 18th for Concord Picante), the release also celebrates the 20th anniversary of the master conguero's group. The conguero and his three-horn, three-percussion octet play 14 songs in a set filled with the fiery, vibrant rhythms that have defined the soul of Latin jazz. From the ChaChaCha on "Oye Lo" to the changüi with The Ortiz Brothers on "Venga a Bailar Bailadores (Changui)," Poncho Sanchez plays a solid set filled with excitement and infectious grooves. Organist Joey DeFrancesco joins him on seven songs, adding his Hammond B3 originality, while Terence Blanchard adds another level of soul with his great trumpet on "Stella By Starlight." The octet stretches on Alphonse Mouzon's "Virtue," with blistering percussion, excellent horn charts, and organ underlinings that make this song an instant favorite because of its great groove. Poncho Sanchez's powerful impact and sources of rhythmic diversification, soulful style, synergy, rhythmic riffs, and cierre, all developed into danceable compositions, make him one of the most influential men in Latin jazz and a force to be reckoned with in the 21st Century.
AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein