Poncho Sanchez is a Latin jazz performer whose musical influences include the late Cuban conga master Mongo Santamaria and Latin jazz vibraphonist Cal Tjader. Born in Laredo, Texas, in 1951 to a large Mexican-American family, Sanchez grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles. He was lead singer for a band in high school and taught himself to play several instruments, settling on the congas.
After working in local clubs, he played in Cal Tjader’s band from 1975 until the vibe player’s death in 1982. That year, Sanchez signed with Concord for the release of Sonando!, an album that marked the beginning of a 25-year musical partnership that has yielded two dozen recordings.