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A Half-dozen With Ignacio Berroa

SABIAN artist Ignacio Berroa is widely acknowledged as one of the greats of our time. Jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie referred to Berroa as “the only Latin drummer in the world in the history of American music that intimately knows both worlds: his native Afro-Cuban music as well as Jazz.” Ignacio is a committed educator, he conducts clinics and master classes around the world, and has made his mark with instructional video “Mastering the Art of Afro-Cuban Drumming” and books “Groovin’ in Clave” and “A New Way of Groovin’ “. His first album as a leader, “Codes”, was released on Blue Note Records, and was nominated for a Grammy in 2007. “Codes” also won a Danish Music Award in 2007 as best International Jazz Album. Ignacio was also recently honored by inclusion in the 2011 Blue Note and Modern Drummer Release, “Jazz Drumming Legends”. On the eve of the release of his latest record, “Heritage & Passion”, we sat down for a half-dozen questions.

Ignacio, congratulations on your new release, “Heritage & Passion”! What is the significance of the album title?
A: Thanks. I would say that Heritage & Passion, is a fresh way of combining the music of my heritage: Afro-Cuban with the music of my passion: Jazz.

This is the first release under your own name since “Codes” in 2006. Why the 8-year wait?
A: Besides playing with my band, I have been involved with education, going to colleges, universities and High Schools around the country doing residencies and master classes. I was also busy preparing the educational material, Afro-Cuban Jazz and Beyond, a video that overviews the impact of Afro-Cuban rhythms on American music and its influence on Cuban music. Through all this, I was also thinking about the new album, which in the end didn’t take as long as it took to release Codes. I really think that quantity is not always related to quality, so for me having too many albums out is not as important as doing something I’ll be proud of — that’s how I feel about Codes and Heritage & Passion. Hopefully the next one won’t take 8 years.

The music and recording industry have changed dramatically since 2006. How did this affect the way you recorded and released the new record?
A: Actually it didn’t affect me because my friend Gonzalo Rubalcaba created his own label 5Passion and asked me to record for it. We recorded Heritage & Passion the same professional way I recorded Codes in 2006.

We haven’t had a chance to view a track or personnel listing. Can you reveal who your band is on this album?
A: The musicians on this album are: Luis Perdomo on piano, Gonzalo Rubalcaba on piano and synths, Mark Shim on tenor sax and Yamaha Midi Controller, Adam Rogers on guitar, Boris Kozlov on acoustic bass, Ricky Rodriguez on acoustic and electric bass, and Mauricio Herrera plays percussion.

Let’s talk a little bit about your instruments. Did any one or more cymbals really stand-out for you while recording this album?
A: My Sabian Cymbals always sound great, whether in the studio or on live gigs. For this recording I used some prototypes: a pair of 14” Hats and a 22” Flat Ride. I also used 21” and 22” Vault series Rides, a 17” Artisan crash, and an 18” Artisan Symphonic crash which I also use as Ride. I love Flat Rides, so if I have to pick the cymbal that really stood out on this recording, I’d say that the 22” Flat Ride was the one.

Last, any plans for a tour in support of Heritage & Passion?
A: At the present I’m working on putting together a tour to promote the album, so God willing I’ll hit the road soon.

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