Pancho Sanchez
"Raise Your Hand "
Concord Records

Poncho Sanchez is always an interesting artist who, on his recent releases, mixes his Latin beats with good old Rhythm and Blues, which never fails to satisfy the listener with a unique and delicious mix of these ingredient. The two-time Grammy nominee and Grammy award winner, has obviously been influenced by the music he grew up with in the 1960s and '70s. Raise Your Hand is another fine example of his fondness for the sounds of classic Soul that he uses to beautifully to create his own unique mix of funky Latin Jazz and Soul. Soul sensation Eddie Floyd brings an obvious and authentic flair to the proceedings as the Stax/Soul icon delivers the goods on his classic hits; the title track "Raise Your Hand," and "Knock on Wood." And check out Sanchez belting it out alongside of Floyd where they are favorably trading verses in a high-spirited manner. Never before has the magic of classic Memphis Soul been covered as it is done on Raise Your Hand, as the additional guests appearances of Booker T. Jones on organ and Steve Cropper on guitar work perfectly with Sanchez's Latin groove.

Speaking of Eddie Floyd, it is interesting to note that it's neat to see those Stax greats re-united as they were back in the day when Booker T. & the MG's backed Eddie Floyd, except with a different twist here, as they turn up the heat with the addition of Sanchez as the leader of the band. The very distinctive saxophonist Maceo Parker, who came to prominence playing with the late James Brown, matches perfectly with Sanchez's Latin Soul with their cover of the late great Junior Walker smash hit, "Shotgun," plus Parker is on board on the funky instrumental "Maceo's House." Speaking of Maceo Parker, he definitely possesses a rare sound from his saxophone that is immediately identifiable and it's cool to hear Parker and Sanchez seemingly enjoying each other's melding sounds on this very fine recording. Blues and Rhythm and Blues lovers do need to know that this is not just a Latin Soul recording, as this disk also contains the more traditional aspects of Latin Jazz, which are represented extremely well with tight arrangements and excellent interplay. Nonetheless, Raise Your Hand is Poncho Sanchez's twenty-second release for Concord Picante and on this release Poncho and his band are always well focused, plus they show their flair for authentic Soul which should garner Sanchez additional world-wide commercial appeal.

Bob Putignano: