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Poncho Sanchez: Raise Your Hand (Concord Picante)

Once again, master conguero and veteran bandleader Poncho Sanchez has created an irresistible, soulful dance-party mix. Raise Your Hand reprises Sanchez’s signature sound with resounding success, offering his ensemble’s sizzling original salsa and Latin-jazz tunes alongside Latin-tinged arrangements of ’60s and ’70s era horn-based soul/R&B/funk classics. I’ve always appreciated the manner in which Sanchez reveals the close ties between these styles. Playing these classic songs with salsa-ensemble instrumentation and rhythmic accompaniment reinvigorates them with a vital new spice. When recording a classic tune, Sanchez sometimes augments his own lineup with guest musicians who appeared on the original recording. (Notably, on his previous release, Do It!, Sanchez and members of his band joined forces with Tower of Power for a tasty Afro-Cuban arrangement of “Squib Cakes.”) Raise Your Hand offers lively renditions of two Stax/Volt classics—the title cut and “Knock On Wood”—with special guests Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd and Booker T. Jones. Plus, saxophonist Maceo Parker is featured on “Shotgun” and an original song with a cha-cha feel, “Maceo’s House.” Guest drummer Joey Heredia adds the essential backbeat to the soul classics. The band’s original compositions also shine through, as well. “Tropi Blue” combines traditional salsa (specifically, a guaracha groove) with a blues-based chord progression. “Rosarito” is a cha-cha with a charming melody, and “Donde Va Chichi?” is another rousing dance-floor number. The instrumental solos are engaging throughout, as well. As always, Sanchez’s first-rate ensemble masterfully delivers some of the best Latin-jazz in the business.

Producers: John Burk and Poncho Sanchez. Engineers: Ron Davis and Seth Presant. Studios: Henson Recording Studios (Los Angeles), G Studio Digital (Studio City, Calif.), The Garden Studio (Phoenix, Ore.). Mastering: Ron Davis and Rob MacKinnon/Down 2 Earth Audio Resources (Central Point, Ore.).
Matt Gallagher