Like every month, we are going to dedicate this edition to a very special name in the Latin music scene and it is about the extraordinary percussionist and conguero Poncho Sanchez, who has given us the honor of donating some of his congas and the suit he wore during the Grammy Awards to the Spaha Salsa Gallery Museum.
In gratitude to such a generous act, we want to dedicate the following lines to his brilliant career and everything he has contributed to Latin music with his work and talent.
Poncho’s beginnings in music
Pablo Sanchez, better known as Poncho Sanchez, is currently a percussionist and salsa singer who leads a renowned Latin jazz and Cuban music band. He became such a talented artist after a long journey in the difficult and competitive music industry.
Poncho is the son of two Mexicans from different cities who had eleven children, the musician being the youngest of them all. From a very young age, he developed an intense love for music, which led him to learn to play instruments on his own.
Although Poncho was born in Laredo, Texas, he spent all his childhood in Los Angeles with his family. In that place, he began to have a lot of contact with American jazz, Latin jazz and soul. During his adolescent years, his musical tastes were dominated by artists such as Mongo Santamaría, James Brown, John Coltraine, Miles Davis, among many others.
When he decided he wanted to take music up professionally, he began to teach himself to play the congas, guitar, drums, timbales and flute. This is how he was preparing for what was to come in his professional life later on.
When he reached adulthood in his twenties, he was playing in various dance clubs for a while, until finally he got Cal Tjader and his group to notice his talent and invite him to join them.
Today, Poncho is very grateful to Cal and said that he learned a lot from him during the time he was in the group. In fact, he even recalled in an interview that he gave him some lessons just as he was a teacher and Poncho was a student. This, in order to be on par with his bandmates and be able to put on a good show to the public.
Poncho as a soloist
In 1980, Poncho finally managed to form his own group with which he began to carry out certain projects, although he had not completely departed from Cal’s band. In fact, the conguero worked with the musical director till the end of his days in 1982.
Just a few months later, he signed with the Concord Records label to release his first official solo album, which he titled ”Sonando”, marking the beginning of a partnership that remains intact to this day. So far, Poncho has some two dozen recordings with Concord.
Following decades of starting his career, Poncho saw his dreams become a reality when he won a Grammy for ”Best Latin Album” in 1999 thanks to the Latin soul album he had recorded at the time. That’s when the artist finally felt that everything he had worked for in the previous years had paid off.
As for his latest album called ”Trane’s Delight”, Poncho seeks to pay homage to the artists who have inspired him and helped him develop his own art, as he considers that these personalities have been a fundamental basis for his growth as a music professional.
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