The Grammy Award Winning, Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band is one of the premiere Latin Jazz Bands today led by congero Poncho Sanchez, who has been performing straight ahead Jazz, gritty soul music, and infectious melodies and rhythms from a variety of Latin America and South America sources for over 30 years . Poncho’s influences are numerous, and he credits 2 of the primary architects of Latin Jazz, conga drummer and composer, Chano Pozo, and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, as his major influences, who were the pioneers of Latin Jazz. These two musicians were the first musicians to bring elements of Latin music to American Jazz, which has resulted in some of the greatest music of the last 50 to 60 years. Poncho’s band pays a lot of attention to the detail of specific rhythms, and understands the historical significance of keeping that heritage alive. Poncho Sanchez was born in Texas, grew up in the L.A. suburbs, raised on straight ahead Jazz, Latin Jazz, and American soul music. Poncho’s music is influenced by the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Wilson Pickett, and James Brown. Poncho taught himself the guitar, flute, drums, timbales, and settled on the congas. Poncho played local clubs in his early 20’s, and in 1975 joined Cal Tjader’s band. Learning a lot about musical life from Cal, Poncho considers Cal Tjader the world’s greatest vibe player. After Cal’s death in 1982, Poncho’s musical career continued, to date, Poncho has recorded over 30 albums in the last 35 years. To Poncho Sanchez, Latin Jazz is the world’s greatest music, having melodic and harmonic sophistication of Jazz and American Standards, and the flavor and energy of Latin American music. Poncho is proud that Latin Jazz music, born in New York City, for the first time in the Mid-1940’s, is something that didn’t exist before in America, and, Poncho is proud to take this music all over the world all the time.
Trombonist Francisco Torres is the musical director of the Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band. An accomplished player, arranger, composer, and educator, Torres has worked with the big bands of Gordon Goodwin, John Beasley, Clare Fischer, Bill Holman, Bob Mintzer, Sammy Nestico, Bill Cunliffe, Budman/Levy, Emil Richards, Frank Capp, Gerald Wilson, Gregg Field, and Tom Kubis. Francisco has played on several Grammy Award winning recordings, played as a sideman with over 50 major artists, and worked on several film soundtracks, and T.V. appearances. Torres is the Director of the SCSBOA All-Star Band, that includes some of the finest high school Jazz musicians in Southern California. Together with Jose Rizo, Francisco created and conceived “Jazz on the Latin Side All-Stars, a band consisting of some of the best Latin Jazz musicians. Torres has played on over 225 recordings over the last 25 years.
The Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band includes: Jose Perez on Timbales, who is an exceptional percussionist in a long lineage of great Afro-Cuban musicians. Bassist Rene Camacho graduated from the University of Arizona in Jazz studies and composition. Rene performed with Celia Cruz for 5 years, and Tito Puente. Rene plays Jazz, Soul, R&B, Country, and Country music. Rene has worked with Sergio Mendes, Ry Cooder, Michael Buble, Oscar Castro Neves, Michael McDonald, Tipica ’73 , Robben Ford, Angelique Kidju, Linda Ronstadt, Draco Roja, Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Raul Maio (The Mavericks), Ricky Lee Jones, Juan Gabriel, The Fifth Dimension, The Pointers Sisters, Carol Welsman, Arnold McCuller, Dean Brown, Kevin Eubanks, and War. Rene gives music clinics and master classes for Bass and Latin music from the Americas and the Caribbean. Camacho has recorded with dozens of music artists.
Saxophonist Rob Hardt has worked with The Budman/Levy Jazz Orchestra, Gary Urwin’s Jazz Big Band, Pete Christlieb, Carl Saunders, Bill Watrous, Clare Fischer, and Gerry Gibbs. Rob has played/composed on over 170 recordings.
Trumpeter Ron Blake has worked with Aaliyah, Ben Harper, Dr. Dre, Ziggy Marley, and with “Green Day”, appearing on “Bullet in a Bible”, “Revolution Radio”, and “Idiot Club” videos. Ron studied at Cal State Northridge, won the International Trumpet Guild Jazz Improvisation Competition, received the Dolo Coker Jazz Scholarship, and was named the Outstanding Trumpeter in the Pacific Coast Jazz Festival. Blake received his Masters degree on a full scholarship at California Institute of the Arts. Ron oversees “HiSpeedHorns”, a website for horn players, featured in Mix magazine.
Talented Percussionist, Giancarlo Anderson, is from Panama, and also is a talented audio visual multimedia graphic designer.
Pianist Andy Langham studied at the University of North Texas State and is an exceptional musician who has toured with a dozen major music artists, and has played, or recorded with over 50 major Jazz and Pop musicians. Andy teaches Jazz piano at Cal State University, Long Beach.