The Latin American collective Yerba Buena was organized by producer and multi-instrumentalist Andres Levin, a native Venezuelan who'd appeared on records by Marisa Monte, Arto Lindsay, Aterciopelados, and Tina Turner, as well as helming the critically acclaimed Fela Kuti tribute Red Hot + Riot.
Yerba Buena arose from Levin's wish to bring together a band capable of melding forms old and new, learning from each other in the form of a school. Gradually, the lineup coalesced, including vocalists Xiomara Laugart, Cucu Diamantes, and El Chino, percussionist Pedro Martinez, reed player Ron Blake, trumpeter Rashawn Ross, bassist Sebastian Steinberg, drummers Terreon "Tank" Gully and Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez. After dates supporting the Dave Matthews Band, Yerba Buena signed to Razor & Tie and released their 2003 debut, President Alien. Island Life followed two years later. ~ John Bush