Bobby Sanabria has performed and recorded with a veritable who's who in the world of Jazz and Latin music as well as his own critically acclaimed ensemble Ascension. His diverse recording and performance experience includes work with such legendary figures as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Paquito D'Rivera, Charles McPherson, Mongo Santamaria, Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow, Candido Camero, Marco Rizo, Luis "Perico" Ortiz, Chico O'Farrill, Henry Threadgill, and the pioneering godfather of Afro-Cuban Jazz, Mario Bauza.
Bobby was born and raised in the "Fort Apache" section of New York City's South Bronx to Puerto Rican parents. Inspired and encouraged by Maestro Tito Puente (another fellow New York born Puerto Rican) Bobby "got serious" and attended Boston's Berklee College of Music from 1975 to 1979, where he obtained his Bachelor of Music degree. Here he received the prestigious Faculty Association Award for his work as an instrumentalist. Since graduating from Berklee, Bobby has become a leader in the Afro- Cuban and Jazz fields as both a drummer and a percussionist as well as being recognized as one of the most articulate scholars of "la tradición."
He has been featured on numerous Grammy nominated albums, amongst them: The Mambo Kings movie soundtrack and numerous television/radio jingles and other movie soundtracks, He first received worldwide critically acclaim when he was with the legendary Mario Bauza and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra, with whom he recorded three Grammy nominated CDs. They are considered to be the definitive works on the Afro- Cuban Big Band Jazz-tradition. Sanabria was also featured with the Bauza orchestra on two PBS documentaries about Mario, and on The Bill Cosby Show.
Bobby is featured on a PBS documentary on the life of Mongo Santamaria. He appears on camera in the CBS made for television movie "Rivkin; Bounty Hunter," and in a series of Burger King commercials. Mr. Sanabria has been the recipient of numerous awards including a National Endowment for the Arts grant as a jazz performer, various Meet the Composer Awards, the INTAR Off Broadway Composer award and most recently for three successive years the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation ArtsCONNECT Grant. in 1993, Bobby and his ensemble Ascensión released their CD N.Y.C. ACHÉ on Flying Fish Records. It received outstanding critical acclaim; garnering four and a half stars in Downbeat Magazine, and was nominated for Best Record of the Year by NAIRD.
His latest release, Grammy nominated Afro-Cuban Dream... Live & in Clave on the Arabesque label was recorded live at Birdland in NYC. It features Bobby powering a 19 piece all-star big band with special guest 78 year-old conga legend Candido Camero and saxophonist John Stubblefield. Downbeat Magazine said of Afro-Cuban Dream..."it expands on the big band tradition by giving it a unique 21st century stamp and shows an artist ready to take his place in the continuum..."
As a soloist and conductor Bobby Sanabria has been featured with the University of Calgary Big Band in Canada, the Halifax All-Star Big Band in Nova Scotia, the Southern Mississippi University Percussion Ensemble, the Capital University Percussion Ensemble in Ohio, Nueva Manteca in Amsterdam, and most recently the NDR Big Band (National Radio Jazz) of Hamburg, Germany. In 2000, Mr. Sanabria conducted the world premiere of "The Suite of the Americas" by Marco Rizo at The Mann Center in Philadelphia. Mr, Sanabria continues his activitees as on educator conducting clinics worldwide as well as being on the faculties of The New School and The Manhattan School of Music. He is also the author of the three part best-selling video instructional series: "Getting Started on Congas." "This video series is a required course for the serious conga drumming student. "