Concord Records continues to build its Instant Party
series with one of the label’s musicians whose very presence on a bandstand creates an instant party, no matter where he performs: Poncho Sanchez. Originally a member of Cal Tjader’s group until the leader’s death in 1982, Sanchez immediately started to record with his own band and hasn’t looked back. His discography continues to grow as one of the important musicians anchoring the Concord Picante label, and it’s a natural to compile some of Sanchez’s most irresistible recordings onto a single CD to kick-start any party. After 22 years of recording activity, he has a lot of recordings to choose from, and the challenge is, it would seem, to narrow down all of his recordings into 12 representative tracks.
A few of the tracks included on Poncho Sanchez: Instant Party
are naturals. "One Mint Julep" couldn’t be excluded, not only because the song translates effortlessly into a rumba with the extroversion of the band’s shouts, but also because it includes Billy Preston on B-3 organ.... and
Ray Charles on vocals. Then there’s "Bésame Mamá," on which the legendary Mongo Santamaria, who wrote the song, joins Sanchez’s band on congas. Herbie Hancock’s "Watermelon Man," one of his early hits, proves once again, in Sanchez’s arrangement that it actually is more amenable to Latin clavé, and shouts and off-the-beat interjections and soulful solo work, than it is to jazz’s feeling of four. And Joey DeFrancesco proved on Sanchez’s album, Soul of the Conga,
how seamlessly the instrument could fit in among the timbales and shakers and congas and bongos, against all expectations.
But some of the other tracks the feature Sanchez’s band include their own crown-inspiring high points, like Sal Cracchiolo’s trumpet smears on "Hey Bud," or the audience’s wildly enthusiastic reaction to the band’s performance of Eddie Harris’s "Listen Here" and "Cold Duck Time." The hand clapping that cranks up the excitement of "Chili Con Soul" encourages audience participation in one of the most effective ways, and then "Lip Smacker" creates its own party among the band members as they cajole and exclaim and comment, putting the audience at ease to do the same.
Poncho Sanchez fits perfectly into Concord’s concept of a party CD. Any party would pick up the instant that his Instant Party
starts to play.