I wrote the following for Jazz & Blues Report at the beginning of 2008, but I am uncertain whether it appeared in print.
Raise Your Hand (Concord Picante), the latest recording by Latin jazz master, Pancho Sanchez, is kind of a schizophrenic recording as it has several special guests joining him for some funk as well as hot latin jazz. Four of the selections have in a classic soul-funk groove while the remaining numbers have strong latin grooves. The album is bookended by a couple of Eddie Floyd classics, Raise Your Hand and Knock on Wood, with Sanchez handling the lead vocals but his band joined by Floyd, Steve Cropper and Booker T. Jones. The result are solid renditions that are not that removed from the Stax classics, but outside of some added percussion, not as intriguing as might have been suggested. The same is true with the remake of Junior Walker’s Shotgun as well as Maceo’s House, on which Maceo Parker adds his saxophone but which one wishes they was more stylistic fusion. The remainder of the album is strong latin jazz with Sanchez also handling the vocal on El Aqua De Belen with his terrific band that includes organist David Torres, trumpeter Ron Blake and George Ortiz on timbales, but these sides sound like a completely different recording than the other four tracks. The playing throughout is excellent, and if the four soul numbers had been a bit more imaginatively performed this would certainly have excited this listener more.