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Poncho Sanchez built his reputation as the West Coast’s hottest conga player the old-fashioned way — with hard work and hot rhythms. Coming up outside the New York-Havana axis of Latin music, he had to work a little harder to get his stylistic variation of Latin jazz accepted. The subtle differences will be of interest only to aficionados, though. For everyone else his music burns with a white-hot flame. Sanchez’ powerful conga-playing sits upfront to drive his group as they take on Latin and jazz standards with searing intensity. Though Sanchez has built his reputation by playing the circuit of jazz festivals and clubs, he has rarely played in Japan, so this is a great chance to catch the group.

Sanchez learned with the best. Cutting his teeth in Cal Tjader’s seminal Latin jazz groups of the ’70s, Sanchez was always recognized as a conga virtuoso. He only started leading his own groups in the early ’80s. Since then, he has picked up a Grammy for his “Latin Soul” album and earned accolades for his other Concord releases. “Soul of the Conga,” released in 2000, and last year’s “Latin Spirits” are two of his best. Sanchez’ bands feature the pick of young Latin jazz players, but he knows how to forge an alloy with the older, experienced players, too. With Sanchez in charge, their diverse rhythmic and melodic threads blend easily into an intense singularity. His fluid tempos on both ballads and standards give everyone in the band a chance to stretch out far and wide.

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