Primary Instrument: Percussion
Steve Berrios is considered by his peers to be one of the top Latin Jazz drummers on the scene. He has recorded and toured with Max Roach and M'Boom, Mongo Santamaria, Randy Weston, Tito Puente, Paquito D'Rivera, Michael Brecker, Grover Washington Jr., Ray Barretto, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Hilton Ruiz, Leon Thomas, Miriam Makeba, Celia Cruz, Nancy Wilson and Kathleen Battle just to name a few. Steve has appeared and participated in film soundtracks such as, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Latin Rhytyms Applied to the Drumset, Calle 54, and El Cantante. His second CD, And Then Some on Milestone Records was nominated for a Grammy in 1996.
Steve was born in Manhattan in 1945. In the mid 1920's his parents imigrated from Puerto Rico. His father, Steve Sr., was a drummer with the major Latin bands of the era, including Marcelino Guerra, Noro Morales, Miguelito Valdez and Pupi Campo.
Steve was given a bugle on his 10th birthday and he began private trumpet lessons. Steve was selected to join the elite school bands and remained a top member throughout his junior and high school years. During this period, Steve won several competitions playing trumpet at the legendary Apollo Theater's Wednesday Amateur Night. But his real musical education came from listening to his parent’s diverse record collection (which included the likes of Duke Ellington, Trio Los Panchos, Diz and Bird, Rafael Cortijo y Isamael Rivera, Billie Holiday, Machito, Frank Sinatra, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, Ramito y La Calandria, Count Basie, Davilita, Nat King Cole and so on). In addition, exposure to renown musicians who came to hang with his parents completed the circle. His two greatest early influences were Willie Bobo, bilingual percussionist, and Julio Collazo, the legendary master of the batá sacred drums. At age 19, he got his first steady gig as house drummer with a hotel band in Manhattan upon his father’s recommendation. Shortly after he joined Mongo Santamaria’s band playing both traps and timbales from the late '60s till 1980. During his tenure with Mongo, Julio became Steve's mentor spiritually and musically.
In 1981, he became a founding member of the Fort Apache Band. Great drummers like Max Roach and Billy Hart regard Steve as the master of bridging the Latin and the jazz tradition, a unique drummer who’s completely bilingual.
Because of his mastery, Steve is now a veteran of more than 300 recordings. He’s a leader on two remarkable CDs on Milestone Records with his group Son Bachéche.