Clave: The Key

A Rhythmic Journey from Africa to the New World
Bobby Sanabria Solo Lecture Demonstration

Bobby Sanabria, master drummer, percussionist composer, arranger, educator and Grammy®-nominated recording artist, uses the five-beat rhythm of the clave as the “key” to unlock the roots of Afro-Cuban music and reveal the voices of the ancestors. He takes audiences on a poly-rhythmic musical journey through history, starting from the beginnings of the European colonization of Africa in the 15th Century and following the slaves’ route and the music they brought with them into the New World.

Mr. Sanabria demonstrates how history, politics and religion influenced the rhythms of Africa to create the rich array of music styles we now call Latin music. Although he never shies away from the brutal realities and harsh conditions of slavery, his emphasis is on a shared musical tradition and a mutual respect for all cultures. Bringing us into present day America, he demonstrates how the five-beat clave remains at the core of such musical styles as Rock & Roll and Hip-Hop.

Against the on-going beat of the clave, Mr. Sanabria plays complex rhythms on a wide variety of percussion instruments culminating with the full drum set, while simultaneously speaking or singing. He never allows his audiences to lose sight (or the beat) of these five notes which, as he states, bind us all together. This charismatic performer leads audience members of all ages and cultures to participate enthusiastically in traditional West-African rooted “Call-and-Response.” People are up on their feet dancing, singing, shouting and clapping to the beat.

Mr. Sanabria highlights the important contributions of both the well-known and lesser-known musicians who made this music what it is today. When time allows, he supplements the live program with fascinating archival film footage of the players and dancers who made music history. Supplied reference materials include a glossary of terms, a definition of musical forms, a description of the various instruments, a bibliography and a discography for suggested reading and listening.

This program is of interest to all and may be tailored to suit particular age groups or areas of study. Students of music, history, sociology, Latin American, African American or Caribbean studies and the humanities will find it enlightening. For students of drums and percussion, Mr. Sanabria can present a more in-depth master-class clinic on the drumming techniques utilized in Afro-Cuban music.

Selected performances: Juilliard School (NYC), Lincoln Center (NYC), The Open Center (NYC), Queens Theatre in the Park (NYC), the Painted Bride Arts Center (PA), the 92°d St. Y (NYC), the Vermont Jazz Center (VT), Symphony Space (NYC), Rhythm Magazine’s World Music Seminar (NYC), the KOSA ’98 Percussion Camp (VT), the Mid-West Band & Orchestra Clinic (IL), the 1997 International Association of Jazz Educators National Conference (NYC), 2011 OMEA Conference (Cincinnati), 2012 JEN Conference (Louisville), the World Percussion Festival at the Berklee College of Music (MA), Aaron Davis Hall (NYC), Moravian College (PA), the Knitting Factory Satellite School Program (NYC).

Contact for Mr. Sanabria:
Bev Montie, The Roberto Ocasio Foundation
P.O. Box 81230; Cleveland, OH 44181 U.S.A.
440.572.2048 /