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Originally published Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 6:44 AM

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New CDs: Bobby Sanabria releases hot new Latin jazz album

New albums released this week of Tuesday, Aug. 14, include the Bobby Sanabria Big Band's "Multiverse"; "Anastasis," by Dead Can Dance; Blackberry Smoke's "Whippoorwill"; and Tamela Mann's "Best Days."

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Bobby Sanabria Big Band, 'Multiverse' (Jazzheads)

Nuyorican percussionist Bobby Sanabria was the driving force behind the reinstatement earlier this year of the Latin jazz category of the Grammy Awards, which had been eliminated, along with several other types of music. Sanabria's new album is a good argument for why he was right. Latin jazz is not only its own, important category; it is a fecund, ever-changing genre fed by many rivers.

Sanabria attacks the music with a powerful, elbows-out brass- and percussion-driven big band, with compositions and arrangements by Wayne Shorter, Don Ellis and others offering a variety of styles that all have a contemporary ring. I especially liked the slinky percussion ensemble and call-and-answer figures between alto saxophone and vocals on "Cachita." The Basie-like segment with flutes in the middle of "!Que Viva Candido!" is a cute surprise. And Michael Philip Mossman's Latinized suite of Ellington themes — from "The Mooche" to "Satin Doll" — sounds like a gimmick, but it works quite nicely.

Sanabria, an important educator, is one reason young jazz students in New York now know the difference between a cha-cha and a danzon (jazzers used to lump everything Caribbean into a heap). So it's no surprise that he ends the album with a fascinating disquisition-rap about the history of Latin jazz and the importance of the great trumpeter Mario Bauzá. He's a crusader. And he's winning the battle.

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times jazz critic

Other new releases

Dead Can Dance, "Anastasis" (Pias America)

Blackberry Smoke, "Whippoorwill" (Red General Catalog)

Tamela Mann, "Best Days" (TillyMann)

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