“Mambo Nights in Hollywood” Mini-Review

So, I did attend Bobby Sanabria directing the Manhattan School’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, and I must say it was so worth my $5. I would’ve payed more if it cost more. Once again, I must applaud how Sanabria is not only a drummer, but a genuine historian and performer who loves what he does and has an energy that spreads to the orchestra and the audience. Performing Afro-cuban jazz arrangements of memorable songs of theme songs from films like “The French Connection,” “The Odd Couple,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Austin Powers,” “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “Laura,” and “West Side Story,” the orchestra had the audience tapping their feet, bobbing their heads and clapping to the beat. They also did a tribute to Celia Cruz, whose birthday was Friday, performing “Bemba Colora” from the film “Salsa.”

Some of the performers who stood out were jazz vocalist Charenee Wade, who gave her own take on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” including a fun call and response scat section with trumpeter Ben Benack, Rachel Kara Perez, who was stealing the attention with not only her voice but her dance skills, and saxophonist and flutist, Patrick Bartley, who put a lot of emotion into his playing. No wonder this is a Latin Grammy-nominated orchestra. If you want to hear some of their music, go get their records, “Tito Puente Masterworks Live,” and “Kenya Revisited,” and all the money will go back to the school to provide scholarships and support for these musicians.

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