Grammy Award-winning California-based percussionist Poncho Sanchez is a Latin-jazz superstar from the old school. His thunderous hand-drumming style is derived from Mongo Santamaria, and he performed with vibes master Cal Tjader for years before he made a name for himself as a leader. On this recording, Sanchez gives you danceable grooves for the head and the heart. Backed by a large ensemble, Sanchez travels the New World in search of Latin sounds, stylistically docking in the musical ports of Havana, New York, and New Orleans. He spices up several Afro-Cuban standards, including the festive Machito anthem "Sambia" and Tito Rodriguez's "Batiri Cha Cha." Special guest Chick Corea wrote the title track and he dazzles the ear with his Afro-Iberian pianisms on a furious folkloric rendering of Wayne Shorter's Blue Note classic, "Ju Ju." Vocalists Dale Spalding and Ledisi add the right Crescent City seasoning to "Going Back to New Orleans" and the Louis Jordan calypso jump tune, "Early in the Mornin'." With Poncho Sanchez, good grooves are just a downbeat away. --Eugene Holley Jr.
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