Bobby Sanabria

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Bobby Sanabria
Born (1957-06-02)June 2, 1957
South Bronx, New York City, U.S.
Genres Jazz, Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums, percussion

Bobby Sanabria is an American drummer and percussionist of Puerto Rican descent who specializes in Latin jazz. Sanabria teaches Latin jazz in New York City at the Manhattan School of Music and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Six of Sanabria's albums have been nominated for a Grammy Award: Afro-Cuban Dream: Live & In Clave!!! (2000), 50 Years of Mambo - A Tribute To Damaso Prado (2003), Big Band Urban Folktales (2007) Kenya Revisited Live!!! (2009), Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!! (2011) and Multiverse - nominated for two Grammys (2012).


Sanabria was born at St. Francis Hospital in the South Bronx, where he grew up. He is of Puerto Rican ancestry: his father, José, comes from the barrio of Ensenada in Guanica, Puerto Rico, while his mother, Juanita, comes from the barrio of Jacanas, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.[1]

He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston from 1975 to 1979 receiving his B.M and the Faculty Association Award, graduating in 1979.[2] He received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1983 and was a featured performer on the Mambo Kings film soundtrack. He also appeared on The Bill Cosby Show with the Mario Bauzá Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra.

Sanabria has performed over the years in many New York City public schools as well as all over the world teaching Latin jazz. He has written articles for Modern Drummer magazine, DRUM!, Traps, Highlights In Percussion, and has written liner notes for many albums. He has composed music for the documentary films From Mambo To Hip Hop - A South Bronx Tale (2007) and Some Girls (2017).[2] He currently teaches Afro-Cuban Jazz at the Manhattan School of Music and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. With the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra he has recorded two Grammy-nominated albums: Kenya Revisited Live!!! (2009) and Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!! (2011).[3]Gabrielle Garo is one of the youngest members of his band. Who he has mentored.

He has performed with Mario Bauzá, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaría, Chico Freeman, Paquito D'Rivera, Candido, Ray Barretto, Chico O'Farrill, Francisco Aguabella, Henry Threadgill, Luis "Perico" Ortiz, Daniel Ponce, Larry Harlow, Roswell Rudd, Patato, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, the WDR Big Band, Michael Gibbs, Charles McPherson, Phil Wilson, Randy Brecker, Charles Tolliver and Marco Rizo.

Sanabria's album Multiverse was nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Latin Jazz Recording and best Instrumental Arrangement - Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite for Ellington. He was featured in the BBC documentary West Side Stories - The Making Of a Classic. His forthcoming CD to be released in July of 2018, West Side Story Reimagined, is a Latin jazz treatment of the score of Leonard Bernstein's masterpiece, West Side Story.


As leader[edit]

  • 1993 - ¡New York City Ache! featuring Tito Puente and Paquito D'Rivera
  • 2000 - Afro-Cuban Dream: Live and in Clave (Arabesque) *Grammy nominated
  • 2002 - Bobby Sanabria & ¡Quarteto Aché! (Zoho)
  • 2003 - 50 Years of Mambo: A Tribute to Damaso Perez Prado - Mambo All-Stars Orchestra (Mambo Maniacs) *Latin Grammy nominated
  • 2007 - Big Band Urban Folktales - Bobby Sanabria Big Band (Jazzheads) *Grammy nominated
  • 2007 - Roswell Rudd & Yomo Toro featuring Bobby Sanabria & Ascensión, El Espiritu Jibaro (Sunnyside)
  • 2009 - Kenya Revisited Live!!! – Bobby Sanabria conducting the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra (Jazzheads) *Latin Grammy nominated
  • 2011 - Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!! – Bobby Sanabria conducting the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra (Jazzheads) *Latin Grammy nominated
  • 2012 - Multiverse, featuring La Bruja and Chareneè Wade (Jazzheads) *Double Grammy nominated
  • 2018 - West Side Story Reimagined - Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band - to be released July 20, 2018 (Jazzheads)

As sideman[edit]

  • Mongo Santamaria, Mongo Magic, 1983
  • Mongo Santamaria, Espiritu Libre, 1984
  • Luis Perico Ortiz - Breaking The Rules, 1986
  • Mario Bauzá, Tanga Suite, 1991
  • The Mambo Kings Soundtrack, 1992
  • Mario Bauzá – My Time is Now, 1992
  • Paquito D'Rivera and the United Nations Orchestra, A Night in Englewood, 1993
  • Mario Bauzá, 944 Columbus, 1993
  • Jorge Sylvester, Musicollage, 1996
  • Sekou Sundiata, Blue Oneness of Dreams, 1997
  • Michael Philip Mossman, Spring Dance, 1997
  • Charles McPherson, Manhattan Nocturne, 1998
  • Larry Harlow, Larry Harlow's Latin Legends Band, 1998
  • John Fedchock, On the Edge, 1998
  • William Cepeda, Afrorican Jazz… My Roots and Beyond, 1998
  • Mario Bauzá, Messidor's Finest, 1998
  • Jorge Sylvester, In the Ear of the Beholder, 2001
  • Ray Barretto, Portraits In Jazz & Clave, 2000
  • Ray Barretto & New World Spirit, Trancedance, 2001
  • Joe Chambers, Urban Grooves, 2002
  • John Fedchock New York Big Band, No Nonsense, 2002
  • Larry Harlow & His Latin Jazz Encounter, Live at Birdland, 2002
  • Joe Chambers, Urban Grooves, 2003
  • Joe Chambers, The Outlaw, 2006
  • Cándido, Hands of Fire, 2007
  • Roswell Rudd & Yomo Toro featuring Bobby Sanabria & Ascensión, El Espiritu Jibaro, 2007
  • Gabriele Tranchina, A Song of Love's Color, 2010
  • Eugene Marlow, Celebrations: The Heritage Ensemble Interprets Festive Melodies from the Hebraic Songbook, 2010
  • Eugene Marlow, A Fresh Take, 2011
  • Eugene Marlow, Changes - 2015
  • Eli Fountain, Percussion Discussion - Masterpiece, 2015
  • Eugene Marlow - Obrigado Brasil, 2016


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-20. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  2. ^ a b Skelly, Richard. "Bobby Sanabria: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-23. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 

External links[edit]