Hi, Bobby Sanabria here! Most of you know me in my roles as a drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, educator and a multi-Grammy nominated bandleader. Two years ago I came up with the idea of re-arranging the music from Leonard Bernstein’s masterpiece West Side Story and performing it with my Multiverse Big Band, but in a way that has never been done before: a complete Latin jazz reworking of the entire score in celebration of the show’s recent 60th anniversary and Maestro Bernstein’s centennial. However, besides paying tribute to the composer and the music, I saw this as an opportunity to give back and help my ancestral homeland Puerto Rico.
As most of us know, hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico, leaving its residents unable to recover. Puerto Ricans have been American citizens since 1917, and the government’s response has been unsatisfactory at best. Six months later, entire communities are still living without food, water, power, and other basic needs we take for granted. I realized the best way I could help was through my music. What better way to portray the struggles and hardships of the people of Puerto Rico than West Side Story? We are dedicating this recording to the musical genius of Leonard Bernstein and donating proceeds from this special commemorative 2 CD set to the Jazz Foundation of America Puerto Rico Relief Fund. This is a cause many of us are passionate about, and every bit of generosity helps. Recorded live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in NYC, this exciting new reworking is West Side Story like you’ve never heard it before, through the exciting lens of the Latin jazz continuum.
At this stage of the process, much of the musical work has been completed. We will be using the funds from this Kickstarter campaign for final mixing and mastering, design, and promotion to showcase the music and to deliver a package that allows listeners to experience the performance how it truly was meant to be heard.
West Side Story is as timeless and timely now as it was back when it was first created. We’re still struggling with the same question: “How does one fight hate and how does it not consume us?” The work is a true masterpiece by probably the greatest musician this country has produced, Maestro Leonard Bernstein. This project is being produced with the blessing and support of the Leonard Bernstein Organization. Bernstein’s daughter Jamie remarked: “What I love about Bobby Sanabria’s take on “West Side Story” music is that it’s a kind of rhythm fission: my dad’s music is already so drenched in rhythm. Then along comes Bobby and explodes it to an even richer rhythmic level!”
When Maestro Bernstein composed the music, native Puerto Rican styles like the Bomba and Plena were starting to be adapted to dance bands, so they didn’t appear in his score. Now they do. Besides helping the people of Puerto Rico, this new production will expose a whole new generation to him and the music he composed for this masterpiece.
When West Side Story emerged, the Puerto Rican community was the preeminent Latino community in NYC. Now a kaleidoscope representing all of Latin America exists in NYC; and the rhythms of Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Africa, as well as New Orleans, funk, R&B, jazz and more, all appear in a tour de force of sound, combined with jazz arranging technique and the virtuosity of the jazz soloist.
My Multiverse Big Band is comprised of some of the most versatile and virtuosic players/soloists on this planet. Besides being interracial, the band is also inter-generational, which is one of the reasons the group is so special. To tackle this music, the hardest ever written for a Broadway show, the level of complexity was magnified because of this new version which features a variety of styles all under the rubric of Latin jazz. The musicians rose to the challenge in this exciting live performance, which you’ll hear.
Our Kickstarter campaign will be used to finish mastering, design, producing, and promoting of West Side Story Reimagined. Also, it will enable us to donate a significant amount of funds raised to help aid and support the residents of Puerto Rico. We are working hard to involve everyone in this campaign: people who care about our cause, Puerto Rican and Latin communities, fans of West Side Story, Musical Theatre communities, and anyone who loves great music.
West Side Story is a complex story of romance set in the energy of the inner city amidst racism, bigotry, and what causes it – fear – that’s offset by cultural pride, humor, and the spirit of fighting for what one believes in – good or bad. In Tony and Maria’s case, it’s about their hopes, dreams, and the ultimate power – love.
Thank you for your generosity and for making this special project possible,
Risks and Challenges
Jazzheads has been releasing music for over 25 years, and we know a major album release can involve many challenges that affect the final product. Fortunately, we have had the benefit of working with many dedicated, talented people who believe in this project, and we have over a decade of confidence in our manufacturers.
Most of the risks associated with this project are related to timeliness and accuracy of manufacturing and shipping, along with delays in promotional efforts. To avoid these delays and mishaps, over the years we’ve built relationships with our partners and typically work months in advance of a release date of any project. Should there be a delay in the release of the album or shipping of any rewards, we will be transparent and make it known to all of our backers, but we’re doing everything we can to avoid this. Thank you!