has gained renown and respect from fans and musicians alike as one of the foremost proponents of what is labeled Afro-Cuban/Latin Jazz. Born and raised in the South Bronx, Sanabria 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
Inspired and encouraged by Tito Puente, Sanabria attended Boston's Berklee College of Music from 1975 to 1979, obtaining a Bachelor of Music degree and receiving their prestigious Faculty Association Award for his work as an instrumentalist. Since his graduation, Sanabria has become a leader in Afro-Cuban/Latin Jazz fields as a versatile drummer and percussionist.
Sanabria's big break came when he was asked to join the legendary Father of the Afro-Cuban Jazz movement, Mario Bauza
and his Orchestra. With them he recorded three CD's which are considered to be definitive works of the Afro-Cuban big-band jazz tradition. Mr. Sanabria was also featured with the Orchestra in two PBS documentaries about Bauzá and appeared on the Bill Cosby Show performing with the orchestra. He also appeared and performed prominently in a PBS documentary on the life of Mongo Santamaria
. In 1993 Sanabria and his group Ascensión released the critically-acclaimed NYC Aché, which put him on the musical map. He also released the Grammy-nominated Afro-Cuban Dream Live & In Clave!!! (Arabesque, 2000). His next recording, !Quarteto Aché!, released in 2002 on the ZOHO label, documented Bobby's virtuosity in a small group setting and was hailed a "classic" by Modern Drummer magazine and critically acclaimed by the New York Times. It was also nominated for Best Latin Jazz recording of 2003 by the Jazz Journalists Association. As well as these he received a second Grammy nomination for 50 Years of MamboA Tribute to Damaso Perez Prado. Sanabria has been performing with the legendary Afro-Cuban drummer Candido
All About Jazz: You have made a name for yourself in Afro-Cuban/Latin Jazz circles over the last 20 years. How did you get into playing this music?
Bobby Sanabria: Well, I grew up in the South Bronx, which is practically the center of the modern Latin music universe. I was exposed to all types of music, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, funk rock, as well as salsa and Latin Jazz. A lot of musical legends also lived here. Tito Puente is from that community, as well as Willie Colon
. The legendary cuatro player Yomo Toro also lived up and played in the neighborhood. I started playing music in high school, and we referred to ourselves as "guerrillas." I also played with the great Latin bandleader Johnny Colon.
AAJ: You are one of Berklee's more notable alumni. How did your stint there influence your musical development?
BS: Well, Berklee is like a musical West Point. All of the teachers and students are very accomplished musicians. I was exposed to people who worked with the Mahavishnu Orchestra