Bobby Sanabria's concept of jazz is freedom. There is no arguing that point of view given the evidence he presents on this recording.
Sanabria finds this freedom in many avenues. It comes from his students and it filters through the musicians with whom he has forged relationships over the years. It springs from the bands he has led, culminating in his present big band. It resides in his music that assimilates several forms, brings them together, and opens the door to fusion "in the best sense of the word. That word is jazz.
Sanabria's vision and universality are reflected in his choice of composers. They include Hermeto Pascoal, Frank Zappa, Buddy Johnson, Consuelo Velazquez and Chris Washburne, besides himself. All of this music brings in a heady whirl of sound and rhythm that hones in on Puerto Rican, Afro-Cuban, blues, bolero, bossa nova and anything else that can neatly nestle within.
While all of the music charms, the two vocal tracks have a lure of their own. "Besame Mucho still retains its classic richness, sung as it is by Hiram "El Pavo Ramón. His voice has a deep resonance, his interpretive power filled with nuance and hope. Arranger Jeremy Fletcher redesigns the arrangement to give it a modern grace with saxophonist Peter Brainin opening the groove with a ripe, driving tone and Dave Miller blasting the whole movement open on the trombone against a vocal chorusold and new sit tidily together.
The other, "Since I Fell For You is sung by Chareneé Wade. Her enunciation and pitch are enviable as she captures the blues and blows them across the lyrics. And when that final scat comes, she has filled the soul of the song with the passion of her spirit.
"Pink is fun. The horns turn on the funk, the beat dances the cha-cha and the mood is effervescent. Chris Washburne turns on the energy with his bass trombone, opening the path for Jeff Lederer to get the jazz harmony flowing on the tenor saxophone. The Latin beat takes flight and in the heady impulses comes the call to take to the dance floor.
Another roller-coaster ride comes on the wings of "The Great Wazoo. The movement is fuelled by the imagination of Sanabria who arranged the vocals and percussion. It is a heady and stirring stream as the band yells, exhorts and goes on full throttle. The arranging by trombonist Joe Fiedler is rich in timbre and hue, opening harmonic space and building a powerful structure.
Sanabria has created a landscape that is at once vivid and heady.
Track Listing: 57th St. Mambo; Pink; Since I Fell For You; D Train; El Lider; El Ache De Sanabria En Moderacion; Besame Mucho; The Crab; O Som Do Sol; Blues For Booty Shakers; The Grand Wazoo; Obrigado Mestre.
Personnel: Bobby Sanabria: musical director, drumset, timbalitos, bat
Title: Big Band Urban Folktales
| Year Released: 2007
| Record Label: Jazzheads