In addition to singing, Sanchez taught himself how to play flute, drums and timbales before settling on the congas.
On his first two solo outings, Poncho (1979) and Straight Ahead (1980), Sanchez collaborated with arranger Claire Fisher, while still playing with Tjader. After Tjader's death in 1982, Sanchez began his long relationship with Concord Records, releasing Bien Sabroso in 1983, which spearheaded Concors subsidiary label, Picante.
This led to a stream of albums that ingeniously combined Sanchez's love for R&B, Latin jazz and hard bop. Albums such as Papa Gato (1986), Chile con Soul (1989) and Para Todos (1993) have now become modern Latin jazz classics.
In addition to featuring the Banda brothers -- bassist Tony Banda and timbalero Ramon Banda - Sanchez's albums have showcased a vast array of great talents, such as trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and Terence Blanchard; saxophonist Eddie Harris, pianist Chick Corea; and vocalist Dianne Reeves. Sanchez's last disc, Outa Sight (2003), saw him paying tribute to his R&B roots as it featured organist Billy Preston; veteran soul singers Ray Charles and Sam Moore; and former JB horn players - saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis and trombonist Fred Wesley.
For almost two decades as leader of one of the worls most celebrated Latin jazz bands, Concord Picante recording artist Poncho Sanchez has been an unswervingly-passionate exponent of the bedrock style of Afro-Cuban Latin jazz pioneered half a century ago by such legendary musicians as Machito, Tito Puente and Dizzy Gillespie. The bearded, jovial conguero and the members of his veteran octet are today virtual living symbols of the best of the modern jazz and tropical Latin traditions. As they confidently demonstrate on LATIN SOUL, Poncho and his men are undisputed kings of a vibrant hybrid that's become one of the most dynamic and enduringly popular styles of the century.
Journeyman Latin jazz bandleader Poncho Sanchez delivers another stellar and high-energy release with Do It! Featuring Sanchez's longtime ensemble, the album also includes appearances by funk legends Tower of Power, who play throughout, as well as South African jazz/funk legend trumpeter Hugh Masekela. Interestingly, rather than revisit one of Masekela's better-known hits like "Grazin' in the Grass," Sanchez chose to delve into older pieces from Masekela's debut, The Emancipation of Hugh Masekela, including the celebratory "Ha Lese Le Di Khanna" and the moody "Child of the Earth." Both showcase Masekela's evocative vocals. With such superb guest artists here, Do It! delivers an electrifying mix of dancefloor-ready pieces, modal Afro-jazz numbers, and Latin-inflected funk.