Multiple Grammy nominations as a bandleader and for numerous other projects as a sideman, Bobby Sanabria continues to make his mark as a drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, conductor, producer, educator, filmmaker, bandleader, and multi-cultural warrior. Sanabria has performed and recorded with such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaría, Paquito D’Rivera, Ray Barretto, Candido, Henry Threadgill, Larry Harlow, and Afro-Cuban jazz Godfather, Mario Bauzá.
Bobby’s first big band recording, Live & in Clave!!! was nominated for a mainstream Grammy in 2001. In 2003 he was nominated for a Latin Grammy for, "50 Years of Mambo", A Tribute to Damaso Perez Prado. DRUM! Magazine named him Percussionist of the Year in 2005. His 2008 Grammy nominated, “Big Band Urban Folktales” on the Jazzheads label received worldwide critical acclaim.
A South Bronx native of Puerto Rican parentage is a 2006 inductee into the Bronx Walk of Fame where he has a street named after him. In 2009 the Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra he directs at the Manhattan School of Music was nominated for a Latin Grammy for its majestic tribute to Mario Bauzá and Machito for Kenya Revisited Live!!!, a reworking of the music for Machito’s greatest album, Kenya, on its 50th anniversary.
He holds a BM from the Berklee College of Music and is on the faculty of the New School and the Manhattan School of Music where he conducts Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Bands at both schools. He is associate producer of the TV documentaries “The Palladium: Where Mambo Was King” shown on BRAVO, winner of the IMAGINE award for best TV documentary of 2003 and “From Mambo to Hip Hop”, ALMA award, best documentary for TV shown on PBS in 2007. He is the author of the acclaimed video series, Getting Started on Congas and he is a featured performer on the DVD, Modern Drummer Festival 2006, from Hudson Music. Sanabria was a consultant and featured in the 4-hour documentary, Latin Music USA, which aired on PBS in 2009.
Sanabria’s big band performed in August of 2010 for over 20,000 people for Lincoln Center’s out of Doors Festival shattering the attendance record for any concert ever performed at Lincoln Center. Not only was their own forward thinking repertoire featured, but with the addition of a string section, extra percussion, and six background vocalists, they performed the NYC premiere of Larry Harlow’s monumental Salsa Suite, which featured vocalists Ruben Blades and Adonis Puente.
Sanabria and his Quarteto Ache’ recently accompanied several world-renowned poets including Martin Espada (N.Y.C./P.R.) and Nancy Morejón (Cuba)at the Geraldine H. Dodge Poetry Festival. Filmed at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, excerpts of the performance will soon appear on PBS. In 2011 Bobby and his Quarteto Ache’ toured Brazil in a series of concerts exposing Brazilian audiences to N.Y.C. Latino culture and the Latin Jazz experience.
His 2011 recording has him conducting the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra and is titled Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!! and was nominated for a Latin Grammy making it his 5th Grammy nomination. The Jazz Journalists Association recently named Bobby 2011 Percussionist of the Year.