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Bobby Sanabria Spreads The Latin Jazz Gospel

Steve Bryant By
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BS: Besides the groups I lead—Quarteto Ache, Bobby Sanabria and Ascension and the Multiverse Big Band, I get to work with some other fascinating artists. I did some dates playing timbales with salsa icon, pianist Larry Harlow & The Latin Legends Band and laying a drum set with pianist Eugene Marlow's Heritage Ensemble. It's an interesting band which deserves wider recognition. Eugene Marlow has composed, arranged several pieces for my big band that are featured on the Big Band Folktales and Multiverse CD's. In his quintet he combines Hebraic liturgical music with jazz and Latin rhythms. He has several recordings I'm featured on and we'll be going into the studio soon to record a Brazilian oriented disc. I have another upcoming MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra CD entitled Que Viva Harlem!. It's an aural tribute to Harlem featuring the music of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Machito and others in ways you've never heard as well as some incredible original multi-movement pieces that will astound you. That is currently available from The Jazzheads label since April of 2014. I'm also actively involved as an adviser to the development of the Bronx Music Heritage Center which will break ground in 2014 and be completed by 2016. It will feature a state of the art theater, music archives/museum, gallery, housing for elderly musicians, and a recording studio.

It'll be constructed in the Melrose section of the South Bronx where I grew up. Right now I co-curate, with folklorist Elena Martinez, the center's satellite space called the Bronx Lab which is an art gallery space with a stage. The space holds about 70 people and has full sound and video capability. On the third weekend of every month we feature music on Thursday, film on Friday, and anything related to the spoken word—a well known author, poet, etc., on Saturday. Last year we did it every week! So we've basically produced over 100 events. Now I know what club owners go through (laughs).

All of this is through WHEDCO (Women's Health and Economic Development Corporation) a non-profit who has been building affordable green housing in the South Bronx for years. The Bronx at one time had more night clubs, theaters, catering halls, restaurants, etc. than Manhattan. In no other place in the United States has more culture and forms of music been produced and co-existed, other than Treme in New Orleans, than the Bronx. We want to bring that sense of pride, culture and art back to the borough.

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