The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel

Latin Jazz: The perfect combination. The union of two musical traditions: Jazz, a truly original art form born in the United States, espouses the freedom in music that its birth nation represents to the world. Latin, a generic term meant to encompass the numerous dance and folkloric musical styles of the Caribbean. Latin Jazz: part African, part European, it is to some, the ultimate American musical expression. 

The San Francisco Bay Area has been a historic hotbed for Latin Jazz artists. From Cal Tjader to Armando Peraza,  John Santos to Wayne Wallace. The Latin jazz tradition has thrived in the Bay Area.  It is from this tradition that The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel arrives.  Lead by drummer Brian Andres, the group was formed to contribute its own mark to that storied history.  Featuring Grammy Award winning musicians as well as esteemed music educators, the ACJC never fails to perform its music at the highest level. The repertoire consists of original compositions as well as exciting original arrangements of classics from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the United States.  The group is equally capable of performing a dance or concert repertoire, as well as educational presentations such as lectures, workshops or instruction focused on the musical instrumentation,  composition and arranging or cultural significance and history of the music they perform.
The ACJC has three recordings.  The first, Drummer’s Speak, released in 2007, hailed the arrival of the group. Featuring compositions by legendary Jazz drummers and percussionists, each tune was given an original arrangement by members of the group.  In 2013, the ACJC released its second recording, San Francisco.  Focusing on the composing, arranging and performing talent of the SF Bay Area Latin Jazz scene, the recording debuted on the CMJ Jazz Top 40 at number 39. Eventually climbing to number 23, it was met with critical acclaim while staying on the CDBaby Best Selling list for 4 months.

The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel's third recording, This Could be That, was released on January 15th, 2016. It's a continuation of the hard hitting, modern Latin Jazz sound they've become known for. Featuring a core octet drawn from the cream of local players, This Could Be That includes guest appearances by innovators such as Cuban-American vocalist Venissa Santi, Fania All-Stars timbalero Louie Romero, bata master Michael Spiro, Peruvian percussion star Alex Acuña, and percussion maestro John Santos. Over the past decade, the Cartel has earned a sterling reputation as a turbo-charged vehicle for interpreting challenging material, and This Could Be That includes compositions and arrangements by top-shelf writing talent from within and outside the band's rank.
In many ways This Could Be That embodies the Bay Area's close-knit Latin music community, which got a burst of international attention when the Pacific Mambo Orchestra won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Latin Tropical Album. The PMO's co-leaders, German-born trumpeter Steffen Kuehn and Mexico City-raised pianist Christian Tumalan, both play a significant role in the Cartel. Kuehn, who plays on about half the album's tracks, brought in a state-of-the-art timba-powered arrangement of his original "Limite," which features Cuban timbalero Calixto Oviedo as a special guest. And Tumalan, who holds down the Cartel piano chair, "and is integral to developing the sound of the Cartel" Andres says, contributed a thrilling Cubanized arrangement of Chick Corea's Elektric Band anthem "Got a Match?" that slyly references Corea's standards "Armando's Rhumba" and "Spain."
The ACJC exert a firm grip on the music's cutting edge, playing with confidence, poise, and rhythmic imagination.


Rwc salsa fest 2017
San jose fest 2017
Docs lab sept 2017

If you wish to book The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel, contact En Español:

The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel Trio, Quartet & Quintet
Whether due to budget, stage space or preference, when a larger ensemble of The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel is not required, one can find the ACJC in a Trio, Quartet or Quintet format.  No less dynamic, the smaller ensembles continue to provide high quality Latin jazz/Salsa that mirrors the repertoire of the larger ensemble. The Trio: Piano, Bass and Drum Set, is focused on the intimate interplay that is imperative with a small ensemble.

The Quartet is comprised of Piano, Bass, Drum Set, and Conga. The additional percussionist deepens the rhythmic complexity and adds another improvisational voice to the overall sound.
The Quintet, with an added horn player, increases the improvisational voice to the overall sound.  All three configurations are equally capable of performing in concert settings for listening or dancing, or provide an educational program to coincide with their music.
Brian andres trio no text
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Acjc quintet
The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel
Percussion Rhythm Section Horns
Javier Cabanillas - Conga/Bongo/vocals Brian Andres - Drum Set/Leader  Steffen Kuehn - Trumpet        
Omar Ledezma Jr - Timbales/Bongo/Vocals Christian Tumalan - Piano/vocals Tony Peebles - Saxophones    
  Aaron Germain - Bass Jamie Dubberly -Trombone  

Javier Cabanillas

javier cabanillas afro cuban jazz cartel   Grammy Award winning  Artist Javier Cabanillas is a conga player, composer and educator based out of San Francisco, CA. Cabanillas has played with Grammy Award-Winning Poncho Sanchez, Adrian Terrazas-Gonzalez (The Mars Volta), Karl Perazzo (Member of the Santana Band), Brian Jordan (Lauryn Hill), Adonis Puentes (Singer-Song writer, Orestes Vilato), Tom E. Politzer (Tower of Power), John Santos (Five-Time Grammy Award Nominee), Bobby Sanabria (Grammy Award Nominee), Jerry Gonzalez (Latin Grammy-Award Nominee), Lucky 7 Mambo (LA), Orquesta La Palabra, and with San Diego-based band, B*Side Players. Javier is an endorser for Tycoon Percussion and SoulTone Cymbals.

Omar Ledezma Jr


Christian Tumalan

Born in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico Christian’s music career started at the early age of 7, where he began acquiring the most important concepts of music and live performance. In addition to his piano studies, he felt a powerful attraction to the art of composition.

His performing experience includes a variety of projects such as Jazz, Salsa, Pop and Latin Pop as well as Peruvian and Afro-Cuban music. He has also produced recordings for plays and “jingles”. Currently, Christian continues his musical studies in the United States, where he has shared the stage with numerous professional musicians including John Santos, Giovanni Hidalgo, Pete Escovedo, Tomasito Cruz, Karl Perazzo, Tony Vega, Johnny Rivera, Johnny Polanco, Ruben Blades, Tony Perez, Eddie Marshall, Chucho Valdez Jr, Bill Watrous, Giby Ross, Babatunde Lea, Danny Lozada, Gloria Amaral, Louie Romero, Orestes Vilato, Benny Velarde, Ray de la Paz, Jeff Mars, Poncho Sanchez Band, Alex Budmans Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, among many other local and international artists.  

As a co-bandleader for The Pacific Mambo Orchestra, Christian won the 2014 Grammy Award in the Tropical category.
  brian andres afro cuban jazz cartel christian tumlan

Aaron Germain

Originally from Massachusetts, Aaron Germain is a freelance bass player living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Aaron plays both upright and electric bass, performs diverse styles of music, including Jazz, Calssical, Funk, Salsa and Afro Cuban.

Aaron has performed with such luminaries as Yusef Lateef, Stanley Jordan, Andy Narell, Melba Moore, Mary Wilson, Francisco Aguabella, John Handy, Gordon Stone, Jamie Davis, Kenny Washington, Paula West, Jacqui Naylor, faye Carrol, Calvin Keyes, Jeff Massanari, Mimi Fox, Eddie Marshall, Royal Hartigan, Mel Martin, Sparlha Swa, Adam Theise, Derek Smith, Danilo Paiz, Darren Johnston, Bishop Norman Williams, Art Khu, Matt Clarke, Babatunde Lea, Gloria Amaral, John Schott, Dave Ellis, Bill Bell, Josh Jones, Randy Vincent, Brad Buethe, Akira Tana, Kenny Brooks and Rob Roth.

Aaron has performed at such venues as: The N.Y. Blue Note, The Blues Alley, Zanzibar Blue, Scullers, Humphries by the Bay, Jazz Bones, The Middle East, The House of Blues in Boston, The Iron Horse, Dakotas, Yoshis, Jazz at Pearls, Bacar, Kuumbwa, The Plush Room, The Sweetwater, Frieght and Salvage, and The Great Pyramids of Egypt.
brian andres afro cuban jazz cartel aaron germain

Steffen Kuehn

Grammy® Award winning trumpeter German-born trumpeter and composer Steff>en Kuehn is considered one of the rising stars in today’s popular Jazz and Latin music with a unique voice that appeals to many music lovers around the globe!

Steffen’s Latin Salsa Big Band ‘Pacific Mambo Orchestra’ is the 2013 Grammy® Award 
winner for Best Tropical Latin Album.”
Steffen’s unique writing also secured him a publishing deal with LA publisher Monica Benson’s “Wild Pink Music” company.

Tony Peebles


Jamie Dubberly


Additional Musicians

Gloria Amaral

brian andres afro cuban jazz cartel gloria amaral   Born and raised in the Bay Area, Gloria Amaral comes from a musical family. Exposed at an early age to Classical, Brazilian, Jazz, Salsa, and R & B, Gloria naturally gravitated towards music. Singing professionally since the age of 24, she took private voice lessons from Jackie Hairston, and classical with Rick Fox at Golden Gate University.

Gloria has performed with many groups such as Orq Radiante, Candela, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and its Ensemble. She eventually formed her own salsa group, Dulcemambo, leading and directing the 12 piece orchestra comprised of mostly women. It was during this time that she joined the all woman Jazz and Fusion group Wild Mango as lead singer. In addition, she joined another woman lead band, Orq D’Soul. (ODS) Gloria has shared the stage with Linda Ronstadt and the Oakland Symphony. Gloria continues to sing with many of the top Bay Area musical ensembles, compose and record music, and pursue her first love, Jazz.

Glorial Amaral

Henry Hung

Patricio Angulo

Patricio has been residing in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2000. Born in Los Angeles, California, he studied classical percussion before discovering the world of Latin rhythms.

In the Bay Area, he studied intensively under world-renowned percussionist Michael Spiro. He has performed and/or recorded with international and local artists such as Danny Lozado(ex-singer for Charanga Habanera), Los Tigres Del Norte, Dr. Loco and his Rockin’ Jalapeno Band, Fito Reinoso’s Ritmo y Harmonia, Albino!, Charanson, O-Maya/Agua Libre, Orq D’Soul and many more.

Patricio is also the director and founder of the Bay Area’s 11 piece salsa/timba orchestra Rumbache (formerly Quimbombo), as well as the critically acclaimed Latin Jazz group, The Sonando Project.  

Patricio Angulo
  brian andres afrocuban jazz cartel patricio angulo

Carlos Caro

Carlos was born in Havana, Cuba in 1967. From an early age he was drwan to Cuban Music, and in particular, to percussion. Carlos began his career with the group Clave, where he gained valuable experience as a professional.

Carlos went on to perform with Opus 13, which became Paulo y su Elite, in which time they recorded two successful albums, and toured Central America, Asia and Europe. Relocating to Mexico City, Mexico in 1993, Carlos began to perform with groups such as La Ley, 40 Grados, La Rumbanatela, The Mexico City Philharmonic as well as numerous Cuban music ensembles.

Since his arrival to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1996, Carlos has been a much sought after percussionist and instructor, performing with such Bay Area artists as Rebeca Mauleon, Anthony Blea y su Charanga, Jesus Diaz y su QBA, Malo, Karl Perazzo’s Avance, Fito Reinoso’s Ritmo y Harmonia, and Armando Peraza among many others. Aside from local artists Carlos has also performed with Eddie Palmieri, Adonis Puentes, Pepito Gomez, Rey Ruiz, Danny Lozado and Omar Sosa to name a few. Carlos also records and performs with the group he co-leads, Vission Latina.
  brian andres afro cuban jazz cartel carlos caro