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Poncho Sanchez, A Night at Kimball's East Video

Review: Poncho Sanchez: A Night At Kimball's East

by Diane Gordon

There's no substitute, of course, for the thrill of sitting in the front row of a night club audience to hear live music. But what do you do if you can't get out? Or maybe you live too far away from big city venues to make possible a night out to hear Latin jazz. Carl E. Jefferson, President of Concord Jazz, Inc., probably had these obstacles in mind when he produced A Night at Kimball's East. This music video on Concord Picante, the label's first, features Poncho Sanchez and his band live at the Bay area club. Precious little of the excitement and intimacy of the performance is lost due to excellent camera work and sound production — and what a show!

At 41, Sanchez is one of the youngest of the great band leaders of Latin Jazz. Musician magazine called the conguero "L.A.'s answer to Mongo Santamaría." And as a band leader; "Poncho Sanchez's crisp arrangements, Cubop flair and informed jazz sensibility bear comparison to Machito's." A baby boomer who was born to Mexican parents in Laredo, Texas on October 30, 1951, Sanchez listened to the recordings of his ten older siblings while he was growing up in Norwalk, California. Sanchez was playing in local bands by the age of 17, and by 24 he was a member of Cal Tjader's band, a relationship that lasted until the young conguero's master died in 1982.

A Night at Kimball's East reflects both the traditional and innovative sides of Poncho Sanchez's musical personality. The set list includes the standards, "Jumpin' with Symphony Sid," and "A Night In Tunisia," as well as James Brown's "Cold Sweat."

Though Poncho Sanchez was a long-time local favorite of the Los Angeles area, he is now a regular performer at the top jazz festivals around the world, such as the North Sea and Montreaux Festivals. So you can't make it to these events? So what! Fix yourself a Cuba Libre, and roll up the carpet, because this video delivers all but the cigarette smoke from Poncho Sanchez's sold-out gig at Kimball's East.

—Diane Gordon

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