It’s not my style to make broad generalizations. But
there is one I believe. If you listen to Latin jazz and don’t come away
with something to smile about, something’s wrong with you. This thought
came to mind while playing the joyful jam, “Cachita,” from the Bobby
Sanabria Big Band’s Multiverse (Jazzheads, 2012).
The song has a bit of everything you expect. A lively rhythm. Rich
percussion. A dynamic horn section. Playful vocals. And brilliant
saxophone solos by John Beaty on alto and Jeff Lederer on tenor. And
after a stunning, get on your feet and dance passage, the track calms
down with an engaging electric bass solo by Leo Traversa, accompanied
only by percussionists and an eventual vocal chant. The horns come back
in for the riveting finale.
Sanabria is musical director and plays drum set with timbalitos,
xylophone, maracas, organ and a variety of other instruments. He grew up
in the South Bronx of New York, where he experienced a variety of
musical styles, a confluence of sounds that led to the naming of this
project. “Multiverse” jazz is rooted in music that migrated from Africa,
Cuba, New Orleans, St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago and founts its way
to New York.
Charanee Wade sings lead on the tranquil, elegant rendition of “Over the
Rainbow,” completed by flute, muted trumpet and soft congas. The horns
assist when needed. Wade’s voice is rich, soothing. The middle break has
a series of solos by David Miller on trombone, Jonathan Barnes on
trumpet, Norbert Stachel on flute and Shareef Clayton on trumpet muted
by plunger. The song ends with Wade in a call and response with horns,
delivering a scat worthy of Ella Fitzgerald.
One of the major highlights of the set is “Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite for
Duke Ellington,” a nearly 14-minute montage of classic pieces performed
or recorded by Ellington and his band. Among them are “Satin Doll” and
“Body and Soul.” The pieces are intermingled, and the band constantly
shifts gears from placid to turbulent, rendering these songs in ways
that haven’t been done before.
Multiverse is 76 minutes of enjoyment. The 10 songs are mostly
covers, with trombonist Chris Washburne contributing the only original
song, “Wordsworth Ho!”