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Happy Birthday to Poncho Sanchez!

Poncho Sanchez and his band in action
Steve Georges
Courtesy of the artist
Poncho Sanchez and his band in action

Jazz Caliente wishes a very happy birthday this Saturday to one of our most popular and prolific artists, Poncho Sanchez.

Conguero and bandleader Poncho Sanchez was born on Oct. 30, 1951, in Laredo, Texas, but he grew up in a melting-pot suburb of Los Angeles. His music reflects the various influences of jazz, Latin jazz, R&B and soul, and it's a joyful mixture.

Poncho went from learning music on a neighbor's guitar (he couldn't afford his own) to working the local club scene for several years.

In 1975, Poncho joined Cal Tjader's band and learned essential bandleading and crowd-pleasing skills from that beloved vibraphonist. After Tjader died, Poncho formed his own band in 1982.

Since then, he's racked up multiple Grammy nominations, a Grammy Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Grammys, a Legend of Latin Jazz Award from the Jazz Education Network and the adoration of fans worldwide. He's respected as one of the top American percussionists of the modern era.

He's also a Jazz Caliente favorite. We'll start this Saturday's show with Poncho's version of John Coltrane's "Liberia" from the album "Trane's Delight."

Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band returns to Seattle's Jazz Alley to sayAdios to 2021 on Dec. 31, and Hola to 2022on Jan. 1 and 2.

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. The show is hosted and produced by Robin Lloyd for KNKX Public Radio.

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Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.