Symphony Pops mingles with Latin rhythms this weekend


POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sometimes when you least expect it, life deals you pleasant surprises. Prepare to be surprised this weekend at the Toyota Pops, when Latin music legend Poncho Sanchez and his band teams up with the Pops orchestra.




In concert


        Poncho Sanchez Latin jazz with Honolulu Symphony Pops

» Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall


» Time: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday


» Tickets: $24 to $82 including service fees; 20 percent discount for military and seniors; $10 for students; available through Ticketmaster (call 1-800-745-3000), Macy's or the box office (792-2000).


» Info: www.honolulusymphony.com


If you don't know Sanchez's name, don't worry. He's not well known in Hawaii. But take a trip to LA and you'll find that he's a legend.

This weekend, you get the chance to experience what Latin music is all about. Sanchez is the world's leading Latin jazz percussionist. He's a singer and conguero, a conga player, who has risen to become a visionary of the Latin music genre.

Even though Latin music and jazz may seem unfamiliar, you probably know it better than you think. Latin music, with its upbeat rhythms and grooves, has always been popular and is all around us. Some remember the mambo mania of the mid-1950s, while the younger crowds will recall Latin music's huge popularity in the 1990s. Movies like “;Mambo Kings”; helped to broaden the appeal of Latin dancing too, bringing salsa to every corner of the country.

This isn't scientific, but its popularity seems to increase when the economy tanks.

No surprises there. Latin music is positive. It's the perfect antidote to depressing news.

TODAY'S LATIN music is a melting pot of the musical cultures of all Latin American countries. For Sanchez, these roots are firmly planted in the Afro-Cuban tradition and American bebop. The bebop jazz sound rose in popularity during WWII. It's jazz, but has big band influences. Mostly, it's free from the confines of the big band sound and is more alive and more interactive for the musicians and audience. Suffice it to say it's hard to describe but lots of fun to listen to.

Sanchez is also bringing his band with him for the shows. They are George Ortiz on timbales (drums), Joey De Leon on bongos and percussion, Tony Banda on bass, Javier Vergara on saxophones and flute, Ron Blake on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Francisco Torres on trombone.

We promise they'll have you dancing in your seats.

Still wondering if you should make the drive into town? Before the show, check out any of the 500-plus Poncho Sanchez videos on YouTube.com. See if you can sit still after listening for just 10 seconds.


Matt Catingub is the principal pops conductor of the Honolulu Symphony Toyota Pops. Crescendo appears Tuesdays prior to each concert of the season to illuminate works to be performed.