Poncho Sanchez: Mambo King
strong> PS: That's a good question. I would have to say Sonando,, my first release on Concord/Picante. Then I would definitely say Latin Soul, which won a Latin Jazz Grammy in 2000. There is Do It, which featured Hugh Masekela, and Tower of Power. Now if you ask about what I would consider memorable albums, those would be the ones where I got some big name guest stars. There is Out of Sight, where I featured none other than Ray Charles,Mongo Santamaria, Pee Wee Ellis,Fred Wesley, Billy Preston and Joey DeFrancesco on "One Mint Julep." Freedom Sound, which featured Wilton Felder and Wayne Henderson from The Crusaders, and Chile Con Soul, with Tito Puente. I also had Eddie Harris on Para Todos.
AAJ: Ray Charles; now that had to be fun!
PS: It was definitely an honor having Ray on my date. I grew up listening to him and being in the studio with someone of his stature is something I will always remember.
AAJ: Since you paid homage to Dizzy Gillespie on Chano and Dizzy, it's safe to assume that you hold him in high regard?
PS: Without a doubt. If it weren't for Dizzy teaming up with Chano Pozo, there may not been Afro-Cuban jazz as we know it today. It is a credit to the musicianship and artistry of those two great players that they were able to develop an entirely brand new musical idiom. Another individual who also deserves recognition for developing the Afro-Cuban jazz idiom is Mario Bauza. It was Mario who brought Dizzy and Chano together and, because of him, they created this great musical idiom.
AAJ: What is it about Terence Blanchard that induced you to ask him to collaborate on this project?
PS: I met Terence about 8-9 years ago, and we talked about doing something together. I always dug his style because he brings a certain fire to his playing which fits exactly the energy of Afro-Cuban jazz. Besides that Terence is a beautiful cat, and I wanted him to be the trumpeter to play to Dizzy's parts on this date.
AAJ: Maybe the fact that Blanchard is from New Orleans has something to do with that also. There was always an exchange of musical and cultural ideas between Cuba and New Orleans that dates back to Jelly Roll Morton, and I know that you have heard Louis Armstrong's version of "El Manicero (The Peanut Vendor)."
PS: Yeah, I know about that connection, and I'm sure Terence took that into account.
AAJ: Your new release, Live In Hollywood, seems to be retrospective because you've played those tunes on other dates. There is one tune, "Son Son Charari," which is a tune by the Puerto Rican bandleader Bobby Valentin. Apparently you have an affinity for those groups down there on the island.
PS: I really dig those bands like Valentin's, Rafael Cortijo,El Gran Combo and Roberta Roena and His Apollo Sound. They have a high level of musicianship and energy, plus they swing like hell. That's the type of energy I try to bring to my music.
AAJ: It seems you have done everything you wanted to do with your music. What's on your bucket list?
PS: I've always wanted to make a Latin jazz tribute to John Coltrane, and I've decided that is going to be my next studio project. I have already talked to a couple of the best contemporary tenor players in jazz, and whomever commits to the project, I will use on the date. Other than that, I plan to keep on performing touring, and spreading the Latin Jazz gospel.
Courtesy of Poncho Sanchez