Robby Ameen spent most of his life in New York City since the beginning of the 1980s. During this time, he put together a recording career with a wide range of notable artists, from Dizzy Gillespie to Paul Simon. But perhaps it’s his 20-year relationship with Ruben Blades as part of the Seis del Solar band that genuinely shaped his career. Robby bears Lebanese origin, and yet his best-known work is in Afro-Cuban jazz. This unique and powerful style has painted him as one of the most reputable drummers of all time.
Robby Ameen grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. Since it’s close to New York City, he could get into clubs and listen to some great jazz drummers perform from a young age. And because he had always loved playing drums from an early age, it was not hard for him to grasp the industry’s secrets.
He started taking part in local jazz and Latin setups, which offered an excellent opportunity for growth. Later he started attending Yale University for his BA in literature. His involvement with Ed Blackwell influenced his jazz roots while in Blackwell in high school. The drummer went on to study classical percussion in college with Fred Hinger.
Moving to New York, Robby started recording with Eddie Palmieri. He had been touring and recording with other big names like Mongo Santamaria, Paquito D’Revira, Hilton Ruiz, a Willie Colon, among other names. Robby drummed for Marc Antony in his historic first solo concert. The Madison Square Garden was filled with fans who loved his work.
Robby Ameen has always been a person who valued relationships very much. Another one of such relations is with producer/composer Kip Hanrahan. They have been touring together since 1987 and working on a wide range of projects. When Paul Simon was releasing “Capeman,” it was Robby behind the kit. He also worked with the artist for a long time in rehearsal until the recording was done and during the actual show.
That is not all; Robby worked on “Storytellers” by VH1 and was on the retrospective of Paul Simon from BAM. Another artist that has enjoyed this long relationship with Robby is Jack Bruce. They toured and recorded extensively in the Cuicoland Express band. That is not all; the drummer has been a long-time member of “Latin Side of…”, a band led by Conrad Herwig.
Robby is also a co-leader who has worked on three projects with “El Negro and Robby Band.” He worked with Horacio “el Negro” Hernandez on these projects. He was also part of the Latin-jazz band “Overproof,” where he was a co-founder.
Apart from drumming, Robby is also a co-author with Lincoln Goines for the instructional book and CD called Funkifying the Clave: Afro Cuban Grooves for Bass and Drums. This book has sold more than 40 000 copies across the globe. He released the DVD for the same, showing his performance in all the major drum festivals, including NAMM. There is so much Robby has done in his music career than many other artists. It is no wonder that he appears in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz.