Steve Berrios was a very gifted drummer, one whose expertise was unmatched when it got here to enjoying the jazz drum set and the Afro-Caribbean percussion. He might transport music lovers from jazz to Afro-Cuban rhythms with out disrupting a celebration. Born in New York Metropolis in 1945, Steve grew up listening to varied kinds of music, together with Latin jazz, bebop, and soul.
He inherited his love for music from his father, who was a percussionist with each Marcelino Guerra’s and Noro Morales’ bands within the Forties. He began enjoying drums at a younger age, giving family and friends round him a style of his expertise. This was as a result of Steve’s house was at all times alive with music, as musicians trooped out and in. Fond reminiscences of information by Duke Ellington, Tito Puente, and Puerto Rican folks music have been etched on Steve’s thoughts.
It wasn’t stunning that Steve’s contemporaries didn’t solely think about him as only a drummer, however as a person stuffed with quite a lot of rhythms. He was well-versed within the historical past and methods of varied percussion devices, together with congas, bongos, timbales, and cajón. His data of Afro-Cuban music was unparalleled, and he was widely known as a number one authority on the topic, based on trendy drummers. Although he had coaching from house on enjoying the trumpet, he took formal classes on it as properly. Throughout his education days, he took personal classes to excellent his ability.
He gained a number of beginner contests on the Apollo Theatre. Over a interval, Steve grew to become well-known for his capacity to play two devices on the identical time, a feat that few drummers might accomplish. He usually performed congas and timbales concurrently, producing advanced rhythms and complex patterns that left audiences mesmerized. His model was a novel mix of conventional Afro-Cuban rhythms and trendy jazz; he was identified for his capacity to improvise and create on the spot.
He rose to the highlight when he signed up with the Mongo Santamaria band, one of many largest promoters of Afro-Cuban music. Nonetheless, his most impactful legacy was the formation of a musical group with fellow trumpeter and percussionist, Jerry Gonzalez, in 1982 referred to as the Fort Apache Band. All through his profession, Steve collaborated with many legendary musicians, together with Tito Puente, Max Roach, and Willie Bobo. He recorded quite a few albums as a bandleader and was a sought-after session musician in New York Metropolis.
Steve’s ardour for Afro-Cuban music was contagious, and he devoted his life to sharing it with others. He was a revered educator and mentor, and taught numerous college students the artwork of percussion. He believed that music had the ability to convey folks collectively and break down cultural boundaries; he labored tirelessly to advertise that message all through his profession. Steve Berrios died on the age of 68 at his house in Manhattan. He’ll at all times be remembered as a grasp drummer, a passionate advocate for Afro-Cuban music, and a real legend on the earth of jazz.