Poncho Sanchez is an uncompromising artist who has always blurred the lines of imposed musical categorization. The legendary conguero readily admits to the lasting impression left on his musical psyche by the 60’s soul music he heard as a teenager. Raise Your Hand, Sanchez’s first record in two years, pays tribute the timeless sound of classic soul while effortlessly blending his unique brand of funky Latin jazz.
Soul sensation Eddie Floyd brings an authentic flair to the proceedings. The inimitable icon delivers the goods on his classic Stax Records hits "Knock on Wood" and the title track, with Sanchez by his side trading verses in a high spirited manner. The magic of Memphis past is conjured up through the added presence of Booker T. Jones on organ and Steve Cropper on guitar both of whom backed Floyd at Stax Records in the 60’s as members of Booker T. & the MG’s.
Renowned saxophonist Maceo Parker, who made his name playing with the late James Brown, cooks up a down-home feast on the Jr. Walker anthem "Shotgun" and the funky "Maceo’s House." Parker is not one to waste notes. The veteran alto man plays with heightened tension as he unravels each solo like an energized preacher stirring up his congregation.
Soul nostalgia aside, the more traditional elements of Latin jazz are represented well through slick arrangements and tight band interplay, especially on the Cal Tjader inspired mambo "Tropi Blue" and "Gestation," a brooding 6/8 feature for the percussion section. Trombonist Francisco Torres soars high on "Amor con Amor," a light hearted cha-cha-cha.Raise Your Hand, Sanchez’s 22nd release for Concord Picante, is a remarkable demonstration of artistic ingenuity and commercial appeal. Fans of Sanchez and his hard working band won’t be disappointed.