The musical journey of the clave with Bobby Sanabria…

Bobby Sanabria & Adrian Edward

Bobby Sanabria & Adrian Edward

The sound check is underway here at the Queens Theatre in NYC. I am here to enjoy Bobby Sanabria give a lecture series and performance on the history of Afro-Cuban music through the clave. Bobby Sanabria is a multiple Grammy nominated drummer, percussionist, arranger, composer and bandleader.

With so much music available at our fingertips today, it’s easy to forget the origins of the music we love. Today’s program is a rare treat to learn the history of the 5 beat rhythm of the clave, which is an essential rhythmic musical element which is at the root of Afro-Cuban music and can be heard in everything ranging from salsa to pop and the rock n’ roll we hear today all over the world. Whether you’ve listened to Carlos Santana, Aerosmith or Marc Anthony, you’ve heard the influence of the clave keeping it all together.

The concert starts and Mr. Sanabria begins playing the clave with his foot using a drum pedal against a cowbell. This ’clave’ pattern continues through the rest of this wonderful performance as we are not only amazed by the development and transformation of the ‘clave’ into countless musical styles but we are also taken through a detailed historical journey of the clave as it made it’s way from Europe and Africa to the island of Cuba when it was founded in 1492 by Christopher Columbus.

Each development of the story and musical development as he moved from instrument to instrument and style to style was a college course worth unto itself. Hey played the congas, drums, timbales and many other percussion instrumetns. He reminded us all of the importance of obtaining and passing on the knowledge of where these styles of music originated.

I will never listen to rock and roll, salsa, jazz or music for that matter the same way again.

Trying to replicate all that Mr. Sanabria taught in this humble blog would be a disservice to his mastery of the subject. To find out more about Bobby Sanabria, listen to his incredible music or learn more about the history of Afro-Cuban music, visit his site at:

I want to personally thank Bobby Sanabria for not only showing so much passion for music but also for reminding us of the importance to keep our musical history alive in our children and future generations.

With much respect