One of Poncho Sanchez's best albums, Afro-Cuban Fantasy includes a little dance music, a little jazz, a few ballads, and a lot of enthusiasm. The mathematical ratio of jazz to Latin dance is always about equal in the conguero's performances, and his arranging insures that soloists are given ample time to improvise within the spirit of jazz. The sounds of guiro, cowbell, congas, bongos and timbales dominate the performance and insure that dancers can feel just enough of a rhythmic pulse to turn their feet loose for making spontaneous choices.
On the Cha -Cha, for example, the musicians provide clearly defined rhythms and much variety, but it's up to the dancers feet to supply the "cha cha cha" part because no where is it overtly drummed out. That's one of the most interesting aspects of this music called Latin Jazz. Sanchez dedicates several of the tunes to specific people and occasions, Ritmo Remo is provided in honor of Remo Belli, the founder of Remo drums. Subway Harry is a tribute to Harry Sepulveda of New York City's record Mart, which is located in an underground subway station The title track is a dramatic presentation written by the pianist and arranged in big band fashion. The piece pays homage to band leaders Stan Kenton, Cal Tjader, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman and others who recognized early on the value of incorporating Latin music in their reperoire and combining that with jazz.
Guest Dianne Reeves sings three lovely ballads with band accompaniment. Her rendering of Clare Fischer's Morning is especially uplifting in that she takes the time to infuse those rafts traits that no one else possesses. She scat sings with an emotional appeal and spontaneity that few singers posses. Sanchez sings Ven Pa Bailar, as Rodriguez moves over to the congas and everyone gets into the jazz spirit. Over half the piece is reserved for creative trumpet and alto saxophone solos; it's the kind of environment that has everyone's' head bobbing like that of a pigeon walking.. It is highly recommended.