Bobby Sanabria, Photo courtesy of Vic Firth; Chris Washburne; Annette Aguilar, Photo by Michael Palma

Part of Legacies of San Juan Hill, an ongoing project that aims to uplift the history, communities, and cultural legacy of the Manhattan neighborhoods that existed in and around the area where Lincoln Center was built.

Co-presented by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies/Hunter College and Lincoln Center

Jazz thrived over generations in San Juan Hill, a historic Manhattan neighborhood home to many iconic musicians, theaters, clubs, and dance halls in the first half of the twentieth century. Jazz musicians who lived and performed there fueled a vibrant creative community and evolved the genre through the stride piano, swing, and bebop eras. Notable residents included James P. Johnson, Benny Carter, and Thelonious Monk, legends in jazz history who are celebrated today.

Yet, an important part of this music history is often untold—Latin influence on jazz. As the Afro-Caribbean community in New York grew in the 1920s and 30s, the city was becoming a global leader in the music industry—through recordings, sheet music, piano rolls, and radio.  In this environment, Puerto Rican musicians found opportunities to play in the jazz bands and Cuban ensembles that were gaining popularity, as well as to make their own music—bolero, plena, danza, seis, aguinaldo. The Afro-Caribbean sounds that shaped the art form and the accomplishments of Puerto Rican and Cuban musicians, such as Ram Ramirez and Mario Bauza, fundamentally influenced jazz and the music industry.

Join us for a discussion and live musical demonstration of the Latin jazz forged in and around San Juan Hill in the last century, an integral part of the jazz canon and the legacy of the neighborhood that still resonates today.

This event includes a live musical demonstration by Bobby Sanabria. Enjoy complimentary wine and conversation after the panel discussion.


  • David Gonzalez (Staff Writer, New York Times)


  • Bobby Sanabria (Musician and Co-Artistic Director, Bronx Music Heritage Center)
  • Chris Washburne (Musician, Author, and Professor of Music, Columbia University)
  • Annette Aguilar (Musician and Founder of the Women in Latin Jazz Festival)

About the panel participants

David Gonzalez is a writer and photographer at the New York Times’ Metro Desk. Prior to that, he co-edited the Lens Blog and wrote the weekly Side Street column, which he also photographed. Since arriving at The Times in 1990 from Newsweek Magazine – where he had been a national correspondent in Detroit and Miami – he has served as The Times’s Bronx Bureau Chief, Metro Religion writer, About New York columnist and the Central America/Caribbean Bureau Chief. More recently, he wrote the biweekly Citywide feature column, as well as having published a year-long look at the life of an undocumented family in New York City. As a long-time member of the Metro desk of The New York Times, his work has often focused on the city’s neighborhoods and how they reflect the larger social and cultural issues in American society.

Bobby Sanabria, drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, documentary film producer, and multi-Grammy-nominated leader, is a native Nuyorican son of the South Bronx. He has performed and recorded with such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Paquito D'Rivera, Charles McPherson, and the father of Afro-Cuban jazz, Mario Bauzá. His big band albums have all been nominated for Grammys including Afro-Cuban Dream: Live & In Clave!!!, Big Band Urban FolkTales, Multiverse (double-Grammy-nominated), and West Side Story Reimagined—which was awarded the Jazz Journalists Record of The Year Award for 2019, being hailed a masterpiece by the Wall Street Journal—as well as Kenya Revisited Live!!! and Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!! with Bobby conducting the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra. His numerous awards include being inducted into the 2006 Bronx Walk of Fame, the 2018 Jazz Education Network's LeJENS of Latin Jazz Award, and recently being bestowed an Honorary Doctorate by Lehman College. He is on the faculty of New School University (his 28th year) and is the host of the Latin Jazz Cruise on WBGO FM. His new album with his Multiverse Big Band, Vox Humana, features Janis Siegel, Antoinette Montague and Jennifer Jade Ledesna.

Chris Washburne is Professor of Music at Columbia University, Chair of the Music Department, and the Founder and of Columbia’s Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program. He has published numerous articles on jazz, Latin jazz, and salsa. His books include Bad Music: the Music We Love to Hate (Routledge, 2004), Sounding Salsa: Performing Latin Music in New York (Temple University Press, 2008), and Latin Jazz: The Other Jazz (Oxford University Press, 2020). As a trombonist, he has performed on over 150 recordings, two Grammy winners and seven Grammy nominated.

Annette Aguilar is a multi-percussionist, recording artist, educator, producer, and bandleader. In 1992, she formed her Latin Jazz, Brazilian, and Salsa group, Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans. They have performed at festivals and venues across the United States, including The Kennedy Center, San Jose Jazz Festival, New Haven Jazz Festival, San Franciso’s Carnaval, and the Yerba Buena Garden Festival. Annette has worked on several Grammy Award-winning Broadway shows, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, Paul Simon’s The Capeman, and Daryl Waters' Street Corner Symphony. In 2014, she started the Women in Latin Jazz Festival to uplift female instrumentalists and diversity in the field.

About the Center for Puerto Rican Studies/Hunter College

Founded in 1973 by a coalition of students, faculty, and activists, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College (CENTRO) is the largest and oldest university-based research institute, library, and archive dedicated to the Puerto Rican experience in the United States. It provides support to students, scholars, artists, and members of the community across and beyond New York. Additionally, it produces original research, films, books, and educational tools and is the home of The Centro Journal—the premiere academic journal of Puerto Rican Studies. CENTRO’s aim is to create actionable and accessible scholarship to strengthen, broaden, and reimagine the field of Puerto Rican studies. Learn more at

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Guest Experience at 212-875-5456 or [email protected].


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Support Our Artistic Community

Lincoln Center is committed to the power of the arts and the important role it plays in our lives. Give today to join our mission and help champion the future of Lincoln Center.

A contribution of any size makes a big impact!