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  • Jonathan Widran


As famed Bronx born, 7-time Grammy nominated drummer, percussionist and prolific bandleader Bobby Sanabria mentions in the colorful notes to his epic two CD re-imagining of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s stage and screen masterpiece, it’s all about celebration.

The rip roaring, percussion booming, horns blazing live performance his 21 piece Multiverse Big Band put on in November 2017 at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in NYC marked the 60th Anniversary of its Broadway premiere and Bernstein’s 100th birthday in 2018. But there’s another WSS anniversary that contemporary jazz fans may remember that’s worth mentioning as well – 20 years since the (up till now) best re-imagining of the musical experience, Dave Grusin presents West Side Story. Like Grusin, Sanabria brings his decades of Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz sensibilities to these stylish arrangements.

But while Grusin’s project was designed as an all-star contemporary jazz session, Sanabria’s spin is more authentic, organic and home grown, featuring the ensemble he’s been working with for years. Because he’s of Puerto Rican descent and was born in the city the same year it premiered, West Side Story has had a special lifelong meaning to him as well.

The music will sound great streamed or downloaded, but the dynamic packaging, including detailed liner notes and vintage Bernstein photos, makes it worth buying on CD. It should be noted that the Maestro’s daughter Jamie Bernstein has said of West Side Story Reimagined, “It’s the most ambitious reimagining of the music I have ever heard!” -

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