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Born 30 October 1951, Laredo, Texas, USA. The youngest of 11 children, Sanchez taught himself to play guitar, flute, drums and timbales before choosing the conga.

He was raised in Norwalk, California, where he played with local bands although his first engagement was as a singer with an R&B band. Among the artists he listened to in these formative years were Machito, Tito Puente and Cal Tjader, accompanying their records on conga.

In 1975, he joined Tjader’s group, remaining until the leader’s death in 1982. Sanchez had formed a band of his own two years earlier for some sessions during Tjader’s lay-offs, recording two albums for the Discovery label with pianist/band leader Claire Fischer.

Soon afterwards he decided to make his own band permanent, and signed with Concord Records’ Picante label,to which he had previously been recommended by Tjader. 

Poncho Sanchez


The imaginative rhythms of Poncho Sanchez have made him one of the most influential conga players and percussionists in Afro-Cuban jazz.

In addition to recording as a soloist, Sanchez has been featured on albums by the Jazz Crusaders, Eddie Harris, Freddie Hubbard, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Dianne Reeves, Joey DeFrancesco, and Terence Blanchard.