NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 9, 2023 – On the heels of their Grammy-nominated and 2019 Jazz Journalists Association Album of the Year Award-winning critically acclaimed masterwork, West Side Story Reimagined, and in celebration of their 25th anniversary renowned drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, BOBBY SANABRIA, and his MULTIVERSE BIG BAND return with their most ambitious work to date, VOX HUMANA.
Bobby states, “Over the course of our many Grammy-nominated albums, we have occasionally featured tracks with vocals. But I’ve always envisioned doing an entire vocal album framed by the Multiverse Big Band. Now with three of today’s greatest contemporary singing talents – multi-Grammy award winner Janis Siegel from the Manhattan Transfer, blues and jazz Queen Antoinette Montague, and the multilingual powerhouse, Jennifer Jade Ledesna, today, that vision has finally become a reality. The individually distinct voices that Janis, Antoinette, and Jennifer possess make them each unique. But the X factor they all have is they are all masterful improvisers in the best sense of the jazz tradition. Added to the mix is our great conguero, Oreste Abrantes, who also sings lead on two tracks. Having that multi-dimensional vocal talent framed by the power, nuance, and tonal variety that only a big band can provide, combined with the repertoire I’ve chosen to showcase them and the band and the incredible variety of Afro- Latin, straight-ahead swing, funk, R&B, and rock rhythmic vocabulary that we are masters of and readily have at our disposal in the Multiverse I believe VOX HUMANA will be our greatest achievement.”
The repertoire is personally meaningful as I see VOX HUMANA as a biographical work. I’m a product of my environment. I’m a Nuyorican of Puerto Rican descent growing up in New York City. In my case, the South Bronx during a time when pop, jazz, R&B, rock, funk, and Latin music of all kinds all co-existed as equals. It was the last era when the big bands of masters like Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Machito, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Don Ellis, and more were in the public eye, and they became my heroes. Vocalists who could deliver a message with subtlety, nuance, and, when needed, power were called upon to deliver poetry crafted by genius songwriters. You’ll hear all that and more through the soaring vocals and improv talents of Janis, Antoinette, and Jennifer, along with Oreste, as well as the incredible jazz-oriented arrangements and exciting Pan Afro-Latin rhythms played by a big band that takes no prisoners when it hits the stage.”
The repertoire Bobby speaks of includes one original and twelve unique re-workings of pop hits like Spooky, Christine Aguilera’s Genie In a Bottle, and Steely Dan’s Do It Again; NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri’s, Mi Congo and Puerto Rico, along with the island’s greatest composer, Rafael Hernandez’s, Capullito De Aleli; the classic Joe Cuba R&B bolero, To Be With You; Brazilian standards Partido Alto and Amazonas; and from the world of Broadway theater, I Love You Porgy, and the iconic jump blues, Let The Good Times Roll. The CD also includes an original message-bearing piece, Who Taught You That?, penned by Jazzheads President Randy Klein, and what may be the most exciting interpretation of the Ellington-associated classic, Caravan, that has ever been recorded.
Adding to the excitement of the performance, VOX HUMANA was recorded in front of a live audience. Bobby states, “As with our previous work, we recorded VOX HUMANA live at NYC’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. The musicians represent NYC’s finest, which means they are the greatest in the world. The added excitement created by the audience inspired us in the MULTIVERSE Big Band to a heightened new level of performance virtuosity that listeners will explode out of the speakers just as the audience at Dizzy’s experienced in person.”
The history of the Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band is based on his rich multi-cultural heritage as a Nuyorican growing up in New York City’s South Bronx. His concept of having a big band with no genre boundaries and limitless possibilities was forged twenty-five years ago in 1998. It has yielded a series of groundbreaking, critically acclaimed albums that have all been Grammy-nominated and thrilling audiences worldwide at venues like the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Ravinia Festival, Verona Jazz Festival in Europe, and more.
BOBBY SANABRIA BIOGRAPHY
BOBBY SANABRIA is an eight-time Grammy nominee as a leader. Known as a drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, conductor, documentary film producer, educator, activist, and bandleader, his versatility as a drummer and percussionist, from a small group to a big band, has become legendary. A native son of the South Bronx born to Puerto Rican parents, he has performed and recorded with every prominent figure in the world of Latin jazz and salsa, from the founder of the Afro-Cuban/Latin jazz movement Mario Bauzá to Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaría, Dizzy Gillespie, Chico O’Farrill, Ray Barretto, Candido, to Larry Harlow, Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz, and jazz luminaries as diverse as Henry Threadgill, Charles McPherson, Randy Brecker, Joe Chambers, Jean Lucien, The Mills Brothers, and others. DRUM! Magazine named him percussionist of the Year (2005); he was named Percussionist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2011 and 2013. In 2006, he was inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame. He received the 2018 Jazz Education Network (JEN) LeJENS of Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a musician and educator.
In 2008 Congressman Dennis Kucinich honored his work as a musician and educator by reading his name into the Congressional Record. In 2018 the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus honored him as a musician and educator. Every one of his significant band recordings, seven in total, has been nominated for Grammys. His 2018 recording, ‘West Side Story Reimagined,’ reached #1 on the national Jazz Week radio charts. He was nominated for a 2018 Grammy and won the prestigious 2019 Record of The Year Award from the Jazz Journalists Association. Partial proceeds from sales of this double CD went to the Jazz Foundation of America’s Puerto Rico Relief Fund for musicians. Sanabria is also the Co-Artistic Director of the Bronx Music Heritage Center and the forthcoming Bronx Music Hall. His lifetime dedication to spreading the history and culture of jazz and Latin jazz to the general public as a performer and educating a new generation of players, composers, and arrangers has no parallel. A member of Max Roach’s legendary M’BOOM percussion ensemble, he is on the faculty of the New School (his 26th Year) and was on the faculty of NYU, his alma mater Berklee, and was the Manhattan School of Music for twenty years, where he conducted/taught the Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra receiving two Grammy nominations for recordings he did with directing his students.
Sanabria is also the host of the Latin Jazz Cruise on WBGO FM and wbgo.org, the number-one jazz station in the nation. Lehman College in NYC has recently awarded Maestro Sanabria an Honorary Doctorate.
1. CARAVAN – composed by Juan Tizól – 7:08 (Irving Mills Publishing, ASCAP) arranged by Jeremy Fletcher, background chants arranged by Bobby Sanabria. Solos: Bobby Sanabria – vocal exclamations, Janis Siegel – coqui whistle, Matthew Gonzalez – barril de bomba, requinto pandereta, David Dejesus – soprano sax, Max Darché – trumpet finale
2. CAPULLITO DE ALELI – composed by Rafael Hernández – 7:17 (Peer International Corp. Gema BMI) arranged by Danny Rivera, background vocals arranged by Bobby Sanabria. Solos: Jennifer Jade Ledesna – vocals, Matthew Gonzalez – bongó, Darwin Noguera – piano, Andrew Gould – alto sax.
3. PUERTO RICO – composed by Eddie Palmieri – 8:25 (Palma Floribe, Inc., BMI) arranged by Takao Heisho, background vocals arranged by Bobby Sanabria. Solos: The orchestra: coqui whistles, Oreste Abrantes – melody and soneo (improv) vocals, Jennifer Jade Ledesna – melody vocals, Ben Sutin – violin intro, Darwin Noguera – piano, Chris Washburne, Armando Vergara, Noah Bless, Dave Miller – trombones, Matt Hilgenberg – trumpet, Percussion Finale: Matthew Gonzalez – bongó, Oreste Abrantes – congas, Bobby Sanabria – drums
4. PARTIDO ALTO – composed by José Roberto Bertrami, Alex Malheiros – 7:23 (Far Out Music Publishing UK, BMI) arranged by Takao Heisho. Solos: Jennifer Jade Ledesna – vocals, Jeff Lederer – tenor sax, Takao Heisho – cuica
5. LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL – composed by Sam Theard, Louis Jordan, Fleecie Moore – 3:45 (Universal Music Publishing Group, BMI) arranged by Jeremy Fletcher. Solos: Antoinette Montague – vocals, Armando Vergara – trombone with plunger.
6. WHO TAUGHT YOU THAT – composed by Randy Klein, new lyrics by Antoinette Montague – 5:55 (Randy Klein Music, BMI)arranged by Jeremy Fletcher. Solos: Antoinette Montague – vocals, Danny Rivera – bari sax, Andrew Neesley – trumpet w/ harmon mute w/ stem in and with plunger, Peter Brainin – tenor sax.
7. I LOVE YOU PORGY – composed by George and Ira Gershwin – 5:25 (Gershwin Publishing Corp., ASCAP) arranged by Jeremy Fletcher, based on a small group interpretation by Antoinette Montague. Solos: Antoinette Montague – vocals, Dave Miller – trombone.
8. GENIE IN A BOTTLE – composed by Pam Sheyne, Steve Kipner, David Frank – 4:41 (Mothership Music Publishing, BMI) arranged by Andrew Neu. Solos: Janis Siegel – vocals, Jonathan Challoner – trumpet, sax soli – David Dejesus – alto, Andrew Gould – alto, Peter Brainin – tenor, Jeff Lederer – tenor, Danny Rivera – bari.
9. AMAZONAS – composed by Lysias Enio, João Donato – 5:43 (Monsapec Music Inc., BMI) arranged by Jeremy Fletcher, background vocals arranged by Janis Siegel. Solos: Janis Siegel – vocals, Takao Heisho – cuica, Gabrielle Garo – flute, Ben Sutin – violin, David Dejesus – alto sax
10. SPOOKY – Mike Sharpe (Shapiro), Harry Middlebrooks Jr., J.R. Cobb, Buddy Buie – 5:38 (Concord Music Publishing, ASCAP) arranged by Jeremy Fletcher, background vocals arranged by Janis Siegel and Bobby Sanabria, based on a small group arrangement originally done by Christian McBride. Solos: Janis Siegel – vocals, Gabrielle Garo – flute intro and outro, Peter Brainin – tenor sax
11. TO BE WITH YOU – composed by William Manuel “Willie” Torres, Nick Jimenez – 4:21 (Aurea Music, BMI) arranged by Jeremy Fletcher, background vocals arranged by Janis Siegel. Solos: Janis Siegel – vocals, Darwin Noguera – piano.
12. DO IT AGAIN – composed by Walter Becker, Donald Fagen – 5:44 (Giant Music Inc., ASCAP) arranged by Jeremy Fletcher, background vocals arranged by Janis Siegel and Bobby Sanabria. Solos: Janis Siegel, Jennifer Jade Ledesna, Antoinette Montague – vocals, Noah Bless – trombone, Gabrielle Garo – flute.
13. MI CONGO – composed by Eddie Palmieri, arranged by Takao Heisho, background vocals arranged by Bobby Sanabria – 12:15 (Palmas Floribe, Inc., BMI). Solos: Oreste Abrantes, Jennifer Jade Ledesna – melody vocals, Oreste Abrantes – soneo (vocal improv), Ben Sutin – violin, Danny Rivera – bari sax, David Dejesus – soprano, Peter Brainin – tenor sax, Andrew Gould – alto sax, Jeff Lederer – tenor sax, Max Darché – trumpet, Bobby Sanabria – drums, vocal exclamations
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 24 minutes 19 seconds
Bobby Sanabria – musical director, drums, mounted bells, wind chimes, background vocals, vocal exclamations
Oreste Abrantes – congas, lead and background vocals
Matthew Gonzalez – bongó/cencerro (hand bongó bell), barril de bomba, requinto pandereta, ganza, Puerto Rican guicharo, agogo, background vocals
Takao Heisho – Cuban guiro, agogo bells, claves, cuica, pandeiro, maracas, shekere, tambourine, background vocals
Darwin Noguera – piano
Leo Traversa – electric bass
David Dejesus – lead alto, soprano
Andrew Gould – alto
Peter Brainin – tenor, also maracas on “Spooky” and “Do It Again”
Jeff Lederer – tenor
Danny Rivera – bari
Max Darché – lead
Dave Miller – lead
Chris Washburne – bass trombone
LEAD and BACKGROUND VOCALS
Janis Siegel, Antoinette Montague, Jennifer Jade Ledesna
Recorded Live at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, NYC – June 18, 19, 2022Executive Producers: Randy Klein for Jazzheads, Bobby Sanabria
Producer: Bobby Sanabria
Recording Engineer: Jamie Macomber
Assistant Engineer: Chris Gold
Mixing: Jim Gately, Valhalla Sound
Mastering: Gene Paul, G & J Audio