If you are going to give Bobby Sanabria’s Kenya Revisited "Live" a listen, be prepared to move your body because the tracks are suffused in high-energy rhythms stoked by power-pop jazz jets. Sanabria conducts The Manhattan School of Music’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra on this live recording, and this baby is fully loaded with tangy Latin-style shakers and African-infused rhythms. Though the album is done in a white tails and tie type of big band format, the music will not encourage to put on a suit. On the contrary, the music will make you rip off the suit and slip into Caribbean shorts, a wide brim sombrero and bare feet as you shuffle them through the beach sand. You may recall actor Desi Arnaz, aka "Ricky Ricardo" in the ‘50s hit show "I Love Lucy," played this style of music in a suit, but today such strictures are unnatural for this music. Adapting to an island look is not only natural, it’s necessary to enjoy this music in its rightful glory.
You can come in at any point on this album and fully experience the celebratory vibe that is visceral to Afro-Cuban music. Every track is intricately detailed with whipping horns creating lavish spirals and exciting swirls, and the bass beats are far from being shy as well. Everyone has a place on the melodies floorboards creating dazzling patterns and heart pumping beats. The album slows down slightly in the piano-driven tune "Theme And Variations On Tin Tin Deo" and then perks up when the rest of the ensemble steps into the picture and turns a sparse track into a full blown ballroom-inspired orchestra. Sanabria has such a talent for weaving the piano and horns into a ravishing dance-track. The music is fiery and awakens sensations in the body that hunger for the nourishment which Sanabria’s ensemble furnish. The music supplies swing-jazz frippery surfing through the hoops of slobbering trombone puffs in "Tin Tin Deo," and the sonic splashing of the horns along "Minor Rama" will give you an instantaneous adrenaline rush. The music is hot and spicy like a street band performing at New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. Sanabria also keeps the music melodically strewn even as he dives into the samba-brewed reggae grooves of "Tururato." It’s music that can heat up your body like a sauna and leave you feeling sated, which is a very different analogy from what Sanabria draws out when he opens the album by saying, "As the great Art Blakeley once said, ‘Any place where jazz is played, is a sacred place,’ so thank you for coming to church tonight." If church was like this, more people would be going there.
Kenya Revisited "Live" is a fresh interpretation of a set originally recorded in December of 1957 by The Machito Afro-Cubans and released in 1958, featuring alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, trumpet legend Joe Normann and congo virtuoso Candido Camero who also graces the present-day recording of the Kenya repertoire. Kenya Revisited "Live" marks the first release in a series of four that joins forces between The Manhattan School of Music and Jazzheads Records. Conducted by Latin drummer/percussionist Bobby Sanabria who is also a faculty member of the New School and The Manhattan School of Music, the Kenya repertoire experiences a re-birth that is sure to inspire new fans to the ways of Afro-Cuban music and keeps its spirit alive.