Although Brian Andres has been based in San Francisco for the past dozen years, he is a son of Cincinnati. His love of rhythm came to the forefront during his Queen City childhood when he suddenly developed an overwhelming desire to turn everything in his parents’ home into a makeshift drum kit. With the purchase of an actual set and the advent of lessons, Andres’ path was established.
At 19, he began playing professionally and touring well beyond the confines of the city. Andres played in virtually every conceivable genre and with a wide variety of artists, including Little Anthony and the Imperials, Broadway star Faith Prince, the Ohio Players’ Sugar Bonner and the great Lonnie Mack.
In 1999, Andres decided to focus on his interest in Latin Jazz rhythms and moved to the Bay Area, home to one of the strongest Latin scenes in the country. After just a year in San Francisco, Andres’ extraordinary work with several Afro-Cuban, Tex-Mex, Funk and Jazz groups led to an invitation to join local legend Dr. Loco. Over a decade later, Andres and Loco remain bandmates in the Rockin’ Jalapeno Band and Los Tibournes Del Norte.
In 2007, Andres transcended his longtime role as an in-demand session musician and added the all-important “bandleader” bullet point to his resume with the formation of the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel, a collection of some of the Bay Area’s most esteemed Latin Jazz players. Andres’ first order of business was the recording of the acclaimed Drummers Speak, an album that showcased drummers as composers and highlighted their musicality.
Over the past four years, Andres and the ACJC have perfected their blend of improvisational Jazz and structured Caribbean grooves and become one of San Francisco’s most popular Latin Jazz groups. Andres has said many times that “the drum chooses us, not vice versa.” When the drum chose Brian Andres, it chose infinitely well.
Andres and Co. have a busy schedule this week in Cincinnati. Along with the Blue Wisp show, they’ll squeeze in a percussion workshop in Covington and the group will appear on Fountain Square Thursday at 7 p.m. for the final installment of the free Salsa on the Square music series.