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JazzFest Picante with Poncho Sánchez & Chino Nuñez, featuring Adalberto Santiago


By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Cleveland Correspondent


You know it was a good concert when you wake up the next morning still dancing to the tunes in your head. Cuyahoga Community College’s 4th annual Jazz Fest Picante promised to be the most hypnotic, hip swivel inducing, dancing in the aisles motivating and pleasurably memorable music that you will ever hear. The concert was all that and better!

Poncho Sánchez


“It just knocked me off my feet and took me back to the old days,” said Carmen Miranda who did step into the aisles to dance her heart out. She joined nearly 300 people at the Tri-C Metropolitan Campus Auditorium on Friday, October 5, 2007, to enjoy legendary performances by percussionist Chino Nuñez with salsa singer Adalberto Santiago and the Poncho Sánchez Latin Jazz Band.


It’s not often performers engage the audience at an intimate level, invite them to sing lyrics or grant requests. When the crowed lacked energy, Nuñez stepped to front stage and ignited a friendly gender war with incentives of imaginary prizes like convertibles and diamonds. Sánchez injected his own humor saying each song request will only cost $700.


The night was all about having fun and feeling the music creep up your legs till your entire body swayed with the rhythm.


Nuñez is a jack of all trades, with 30 years in the music industry. A self taught musician, he is a well respected bandleader, drummer, Grammy Award winning percussionist extraordinaire, pianist, arranger, bandleader, composer, producer, recording engineer, educator, and motivational speaker.


He tours extensively coast-to-coast and collaborated with many Latin Grammy winners. Nuñez is also the musical director for the legendary Ray Sepulveda and the popular Johnny Rivera.


His most notable performances have been with his idols Hector Lavoe, Willie Colón, Ray Barretto and at the JazzFest Picante his performance featured Adalberto Santiago. Nuñez introduced Santiago as the God Father of Latin music, “The night wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share the stage with him in Cleveland,” he said.


Santiago is known for drawing the crowd in and his performance had the audience squealing with joy.


“They don’t make songs like they used to,” said Miranda. She was reminded of her mother who introduced her to Latin music. “I’m going to tell my sister she missed the bomb,” she said.

Ponco Sánchez’s Latin Jazz Band eloquently merges Latin jazz beats with Afro-Cuban producing an enigmatic sound that is craved throughout the world. Just returning from a tour in Japan, Sánchez joked he was able to purchase some of his own works on digital formats.


Watching Sanchez drum his blue celestial designed congas is an awe inspiring vision. His passion for music flows through his fingers creating an enchanting beat that demands you to move with the rhythm. His performance included tracks from his latest CD “Raise Your Hand”.


Traditionally the Latin Jazz Picante was held with the annual Tri-C Jazz Fest, but for the last three years it has been celebrated as a fall attraction. This years date was moved to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month.


During intermission, students with the Tri-C Jazz Student Latin Ensemble provided great entertainment and Miranda and her friend Grant Melton took the opportunity to salsa. The concert was Melton’s birthday present to Miranda. “It is great to see her enjoying herself, and the music is just great,” said Melton.





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