Poncho Sanchez: Cantaloupe Island


Cantaloupe Island


Poncho Sanchez (percussion)


Psychadelic Blues (Concord 31526)

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Poncho Sanchez (percussion),

David Torres (piano, Hammond B-3 organ), Javíer Vergara (reeds), Ron Blake (trumpet, flugelhorn), Francisco A. Torres (trombone), George Ortiz (timbales), Joey De León, Jr. (percussion)


Composed by Herbie Hancock


Recorded: Los Angeles, no date given (CD released in 2009)


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

He is the miracle man of Latin jazz. Just breaking into the Cuban and Puerto Rican dominated Latin jazz scene was no small achievement for a Mexican-American from Laredo, Texas. But Poncho Sanchez has not only risen to a position of preeminence, but has somehow stayed with the same label for more than a quarter of a century. He now releases his 24th album on Concord. It's hardly the same label any more—new owner, new headquarters, new city, new management, even the LPs are gone—but Sanchez remains. And for a good reason: he delivers the goods, again and again, with effective charts, infectious rhythms, solid musicianship and smart song selection. Here he presents a deceptively simple version of "Cantaloupe Island," which reminds me of another standout Latin cover of a Herbie Hancock tune. But the casual listener might not notice the modulations and harmonic changes that give a fresh spin to a familiar song. Sanchez lays down a very crisp groove, and the song is ready for airplay straight out of the case. Are there still jazz stations out there looking for hip new songs to play? I'm not sure, but I won't bet against an artist who has always succeeded against the odds.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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