Born in the Bronx and hailing from a Puerto Rican background, percussionist Bobby Sanabria has mastered every conceivable form of AfroLatin music, from New York salsa to Cuban son and even down to Brazilian samba. This album comes across as a demonstration record for everything that he and his thrilling big band can accomplish.
Illuminating though they are, it might be best to lay off reading Dr. Robert Farris Thompson's booklet notes until after a few spins of the disc and a few mambos around the apartment. On paper, the sheer number of transitions between bolero, cha-cha-cha, son montuno, guaguancó and, yes, mambo, appear bewildering, but if you close your eyes and dance, this multitude of sections careens on by unselfconsciously, the transitions from form to form not feeling forced.
Sanabria's percussion items also take up a lot of space when listed (and also in his tour truck). He utilizes an impressive battery of drums, shakers and scrapers, also getting to play vibes on the jazzier "Blues For Booty Shakers." All of this percussion prowess is channeled through a jazz structure, with many of the compositions generated from within the band itself. Sanabria also chooses two Hermeto Pascoal numbers and, most unusually, Frank Zappa's "The Grand Wazoo," which allows the band to display their kazoo-section work proudly in the credits. All this and "Bésame Mucho too, with the oldest member, 76-year-old Hiram Remón, taking the vocal.
The big band's age range goes right down to eighteen, with several players being students or ex-students of the leader's, as Sanabria can be found teaching at New School University and Manhattan School Of Music. Everyone executes this complex (yet good-time) repertoire with precision and fire, satisfying both the head and the feet.
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
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