• Faculty

  • Bobby Sanabria


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    Bobby Sanabria


    “Bobby Sanabria is equally adept at the swinging big band sounds of drummers Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson along with with another boyhood hero, fusion pioneer Billy Cobham and timbale titan Tito Puente.”
    - Bill Milkowoski, Jazz Times


    7X Grammy nominee as a bandleader - drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, educator, documentary film producer, multicultural warrior, and activist, Bobby Sanabria is a native Nuyorican born and raised in NYC’s South Bronx. He is unique in that he has performed and/or recorded with every major figure in the development of what today is known as Latin jazz. From the genre’s acknowledged creator, maestro Mario Bauzá, for whom Bobby recorded three Grammy-nominated CDs as the drummer in his Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, to Mongo Santamaria, with whom he started his career, to Tito Puente, Chico O’Farrill, Ray Barretto, Paquito D'Rivera, Larry Harlow, Candido, Dizzy Gillespie, and many more. His versatility and scope of musical influence as both a drummer and percussionist has extended to other forms of music. He has worked with such genre-bending artists as composers David Amram, Henry Threadgill, and poet Sekou Sundiata. A noted educator and clinician, he is is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and the New School Jazz & Contemporary Music where he directs both schools’ acclaimed Afro-Cuban jazz orchestras. In 2000 Maestro Sanabria’s groundbreaking Grammy-nominated CD Live & In Clave!!! was hailed by the jazz press worldwide for its futuristic take on the big band Latin jazz tradition. Grammy nominations followed for his Big Band Urban Folktales (2008) and the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Kenya Revisited Live!!! (2009), a tribute and re-working of the Machito Afro-Cubans’ legendary Kenya album, and Tito Puente: Masterworks Live!!!, again with the MSM ACJO (2011). He has worked as a producer, advisor, and on-air personality on the award-winning documentaries, The Palladium Where Mambo Was King (Bravo, 2003), From Mambo to Hip Hop (PBS, 2007) for which he also composed the music, Latin Music U.S.A. (PBS, 2009), We Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo (2015). In 2006 Bobby was honored by his hometown by being inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame on the Grand Concourse. The readers of DRUM! magazine named him Percussionist of the Year in 2006, the Jazz Journalists Association honored him as Percussionist of the Year in 2011 and 2013. In 2012, his CD Multiverse, again featuring his big band, received two Grammy nominations. In 2013 Mr. Sanabria was honored by Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the Dream Big Foundation for his community activism and work in the South Bronx with children. His most recent recording, Que Viva Harlem! (2015), featuring the MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, has been critically acclaimed by the jazz cognoscenti, receiving 4 ½ stars from Downbeat magazine. In 2017 he composed the music for Some Girls, a film by noted indie documentary filmmakers Henry Chalfant and Raquel Cepeda and is the co-author of the new book, The Conga And Bongo In Jazz (Mel Bay Publications). He is the Artistic Director/Artist in Residence of the Roberto Ocasio Memorial Latin Jazz Camp for High School Students in Cleveland, Ohio. Along with noted folklorist/cultural anthropologist Elena Martinez, Mr. Sanabria is currently the Co-Artistic Director of the Bronx Music Heritage Center. He is featured in the current BBC documentary West Side Stories - The Making of a Classic, celebrating the 60th anniversary of West Side Story. He is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music receiving his Bachelor of Music degree in 1979. He proudly endorses TAMA Drums, Latin Percussion Inc., Vic Firth Sticks, Sabian Cymbals, and Remo Drumheads.

    Current Courses

    Afro-Cuban Orchestra

    Lessons 3000: 3

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