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 – drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria, and his Multiverse Big Band return with their most ambitious work to date, VOX HUMANA states, “Over the course of our many Grammy-nominated albums, we’ve 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 prove to be our greatest achievement.
That repertoire has a personal meaning to me 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 period 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 12 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, MiCongo 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, 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. My musicians represent NYC’s finest. That means they’re 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 hear 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 indeed based on his rich multi-cultural heritage as a Nuyorican growing up in New York City’s South Bronx. He forged his concept of having a big band with no genre boundaries, and limitless possibilities forged 25 years ago in 1998. It has yielded a series of groundbreaking, critically acclaimed albums that have all been Grammy-nominated and thrilled audiences worldwide at venues like the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Ravinia Festival, Verona Jazz Festival in Europe, and more.