Sixteen years ago Bobby Sanabria took his Big Band on the road and when they were in Birdland on May 20 in 1999, the indefatigable leader recorded the concert that produced this explosive record. Now Bobby Sanabria is known for his fiery energy as a drummer but he is also one of the most elegant and accomplished percussion colourists in the Afro-Cuban idiom. Bobby Sanabria was also the one who said that without Tito Puente there would be no Latin Jazz but truth be told, without Bobby Sanabria, Latin Jazz would not have had as celebrated visceral energy yesterday and today. It’s as simple as that. He plays fast like a bat out of hell but can also play soft as this wonderful and iconic record Bobby Sanabria Big Band Afro-Cuban Dream – Live & in Clave showcases.
The Big Band, in 1999, comprised such extraordinary musicians as alto and soprano saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer, bassist Boris Kozlov, trumpeter Michael Phillip Mossman, trombonist Chris Washburne, tenor saxophonist John Stubblefield and of course, the great conguero Cándido Camero, who played a monumental role on a seminal version of “Manteca”. However Mr. Sanabria’s Big Band also has some fine musicians in tenor saxophonist Jay Collins and the wonderful pianist John di Martino. What is extraordinary about this band is that it rivals the primeval excitement of even the greatest Latin Jazz big bands of any era and this disc proves it beyond any doubt. Purists might balk at the wild nature of the Afro-Cuban music that is played here but the intense performance is as reminiscent of the rhythms of Africa melded into those of Cuba.
The repertoire is also key to the majesty of this disc. The programme displays all of the diversity of a Latin American rainforest, both in terms of instrumentation and style. Even “Donna Lee” gets the extraordinary Afro-Cuban Jazz treatment and it is quite spectacular. The mixture of Western polyphony with some profoundly beautiful Afro-Cuban polyrhythms is illuminating and unexpectedly rewarding. The band culled from various musical sensibilities does yeoman service to the repertoire. The music is continuously catchy, evocative and melodic. You might say that this is everything that should be expected from a live performance, but even the best of them do not match the magnificent manner in which this diverse band has been rehearsed for that memorable evening.
Nevertheless, this is very much Bobby Sanabria’s record. His performance throughout has a tightness of organisation that is genuinely composerly. Driven forwards by the thunderous timpani motifs that torch swirling, tearing-it-up percussion cadenzas in each of the charts, Bobby Sanabria’s rhythmic stride ignites the whole work. It feels satisfyingly unified; idiom-perfect performance too. The result is less a Paella Mixta than a true symphony of hearts and minds built on the cantus firmus of Bobby Sanabria’s almost fiendishly brilliant musicianship.
Track List: The Opening – a: Praise t the Creator & Ancestors; b: In the Time of the Colony; c: Telemina; Mosscode; Angel Eyes; Nuyorican Son; Olokún/Yemayá; Adios Mario; The Troubadours; Donna Lee; Manteca.
Personnel: Bobby Sanabria: drums, akpwón and morua vocals, and musical director; Wilson “Chembo” Corniel: congas; Roberto Quintero: bongo and cencerro, and shékere; Hiram “El Pava” Remon: maracas, güiro macho, shékere and vocals; John di Martino: piano; Boris Kozlov: acoustic bass and electric bass (9); Karolina Strassmayer: alto and soprano saxophones and vocals; Gene Jefferson: alto saxophone, guataca and vocals; Peter Brainin: tenor saxophone; Jay Collins: tenor and soprano saxophones, and pre-Columbian flute; Ricardo Pons: baritone saxophone, shékere and vocals; Michael Phillip Mossman: trumpet; John Walsh: trumpet and vocals; Tim Quimette: trumpet; Tanya Darby: trumpet; Dr. Chris Washburne: trombone, clave, guataca and vocals; Barry Olsen: trombone, guataca and vocals; Joe Fiedler: trombone; Don Levine: bass trombone; Rick Alarie: drum technician; John Stubblefield: tenor saxophone (4, 5 & 9); Cándido Camero: congas (9).
About Bobby Sanabria
Bobby Sanabria – drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, recording artist, producer, filmmaker, conductor, educator, activist, multi-cultural warrior and multiple Grammy nominee – has performed with a veritable Who’s Who in the world of jazz and Latin music, as well as with his own critically acclaimed ensembles. His diverse recording and performing experience includes work with such legendary figures as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Paquito D’Rivera, Charles McPherson, Mongo Santamaría, Ray Barretto, Marco Rizo, Arturo Sandoval, Roswell Rudd, Chico O’Farrill, Candido, Yomo Toro, Francisco Aguabella, Larry Harlow, Henry Threadgill, and the Godfather of Afro-Cuban Jazz, Mario Bauzá. Read more…
Miguel de Armas: Miguel de Armas and The Ottawa Latin Jazz Orchestra
Django Festival Allstars with special guest Edmar Castañeda Featuring Dorado Schmitt and sons Samson & Amati
Christian McBride’s New Jawn at Koerner Hall: Concert Review
Papo Vázquez Holiday Jazz & Latin Jazz Parranda with The Mighty Pirates Troubadours
Donald Vega: As I Travel
“They Shot The Piano Player” Screening At The Village East in New York And The Royal in Los Angeles
Una Navidad Nuyorkina: Celebrating 40 Years of Los Pleneros de la 21
The Latin Side of Jazz Episode 35
Sebastian Schunke: Existential Intensities
NPR’s A Jazz Piano Christmas with Melvis Santa, Alfredo Rodríguez and Hilario Durán
Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Borrowed Roses
Tito Puente and his Latin Ensemble: Mambo Diablo on Vinyl
Juan García-Herreros – The Snow Owl: Normas
Raphael Cruz Reaffirms His Commitment To Latin Jazz!
Edy Martínez, the Music Architect Behind the Piano
Rubén Blades con Roberto Delgado & Orquesta · Son de Panamá
Celebrating Emiliano Salvador and his Musical Legacy
Cubano Be, Cubano Bop: A Memorable Night in Toronto with Poncho Sánchez
A Conversation with Percussionist, Bandleader Poncho Sanchez
The Odyssey of Anat Cohen
Paquito D’Rivera & Quinteto Cimarrón: Aires Tropicales
Have You Seen My Nana? The Enduring Genius of Moacir Santos
Enrique Rodríguez: Enriquito – Me Quito El Sombrero
Roberto López Afro-Colombian Jazz Orchestra: Azul
Most Read in 2023
Featured Albums8 months ago
Aymée Nuviola feat. Kemuel Roig: Havana Nocturne
News9 months ago
Wilson “Chembo” Corniel Releases New Album: “Artistas, Músicos y Poetas”
News9 months ago
Aymée Nuviola To Release New Latin Jazz Album: “Havana Nocturne”
Events8 months ago
Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez Centennial Celebration