Debriano, Santi

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Debriano, Santi

Debriano, Santi , jazz bassist, composer, leader; b. Colon, Panama, June 27, 1955. His father, Alonso Wilson Debriano, a pianist and composer, moved to Harlem, and after finding a place to live, the family followed. Santi, age two, became very ill and was brought back to Panama to stay with his grandmother. He returned to N.Y. in 1959. From the age of 7 to 17 he lived with his family in the East N.Y. section of Brooklyn; attended Union Coll., studying political science and music (B.A. 1976); then began a Masters program at New England Cons, in the fall of 1976, where he had a few bass lessons with Tiny Martin and a few with Miroslav Vitous. In early 1978 he left the program to tour with Archie Shepp. He recorded with the Don Pullen Trio, the George Adams Quartet, the Sonny Fortune Group, and the Billy Hart Band, among others. He has had longstanding affiliations with Sam Rivers, Danilo Perez, Oliver Lake, Kirk Lightsey, Jerry Gonzalez, and Kenny Barren. He has also recorded with Freddie Hubbard, Chico Freeman, Joe Chambers, Charlie Rouse, George Cables, Sonny Fortune, David Murray, Red Rodney, Larry Willis, Bill Pierce, Karl Berger, George Adams, Ravi Coltrane, and Antoine Roney. On tour with his bands in Europe and Japan, he has performed original modern jazz and Latin-influenced compositions. He often appears in N.Y.C. with his band, the Panamaniacs, which usually includes Donny McCaslin, saxophones and flute (who has recorded and toured with Steps Ahead), Alan Mallet, piano, Tommy Campbell, drums (formerly with the Mahavishnu Orch.), Raul Jorena, bandoneon master, and Horacio Hernandez, Latin percussionist (from Gonzalo Rubalcaba). He also performs in duet with Cecilia Engelhart Lopez (vocalist, percussionist, composer and lyricist). He completed an MA in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan Univ. (1989–91). During 1996 he worked on a documentary film, Check the Changes, about the N.Y.C. jazz scene with director Marc Hureaux and others.


Obeah (1987); Soldiers of Fortune (1989); Panamaniacs (1997); Circle Chant (1999).

—Lewis Porter