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Every week on the air there's a special focus on one particular jazz album. Check them all out here!

Jazz Album of the Week: Bernstein's West Side Story Reimagined


August 20, 2018. Percussionist and bandleader Bobby Sanabria first saw West Side Story when he was a young boy living in the Bronx.   Leonard Bernstein's music floored Sanabria, who thought it epitomized the cool factor found only in New York City.  Years later, in West Side Story Reimagined, Sanabria presents Bernstein's enduring music from his own perspective as "a jazz musician, a Latin musician and native Nuyorican son."

While there’s a clear Latin influence in Bernstein’s compositions, Sanabria takes it a step further with his Multiverse Big Band. The pieces are totally recognizable, with a caliente kick.

Most of the tunes are instrumental, with the exception of some background vocals from the entire band, especially prevalent in “Maria.”  “America” swings, like a modern big band piece with a lot of additional percussion.

“Tonight” is a stirring example of something that runs throughout this record—the mixture of genres from different parts of Latin America. Bolero (from Cuba), samba (from Brazil) and merengue (from the Dominican Republic) come together to represent the passion Tony and Maria have for one another.

When Sanabria saw West Side Story as a kid in the Bronx, he realized that other than negativity in the news, there was wasn’t much else in the media acknowledging the existence of New York’s Puerto Rican community.  Now, in West Side Story Reimagined, he presents Bernstein’s beloved music in a way that's close to his heart.



Maureen began her radio career at WRTI in 1999 while studying broadcasting at Temple University. Determined to make it in the entertainment industry, she took advantage of all the creative opportunities presented to her at WRTI - she hosted the overnight jazz broadcasts through her entire college career, she was an arts and culture reporter, and she soaked up the jazz biz from her many WRTI mentors.