Life Builders: Anibal Ambert

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Anibal Ambert – The Coolest Cat

The next person I want to write about in my Life Builders series is my good friend Anibal Ambert. Anibal is one of the very first people I ever met from Houston. I met him about six months before I even moved here. I was hired from El Paso to play a gig in Galup New Mexico with a band from Houston. That’s when I met Anibal, Liz Mendez (piano player), and Oscar Macias (sax). I later hooked up with Anibal when I moved to Houston and we have been working together ever since.

If I had to summarize who Anibal is in one sentence, I would have to say that he is the coolest of the coolest cats on the scene. Ha! If you open the dictionary to the word “cool”, you’ll see Anibal smiling at you and greeting you as a brother. 🙂

Okay, if you prefer the less poetic version, let’s just say that Anibal rarely if ever looses his temper. He is a peacemaker and treats everyone like his best buddy.


There have been many times when there were musicians in the bands we worked in together when Anibal was the guy calming everyone down. If you’ve never played a salsa gig before, let’s just say that many of them come with a good bit of drama. But Anibal was always the man in the middle encouraging people to chill out and stay focused. I have always admired him for that, even during those few times when I was the one he had to calm down. 🙂

I think Anibal can pull this off better than most simply because he is so friendly with everyone from the onset. So you don’t get the feeling, when it’s you’re turn in the hot seat, that Anibal is trying to insult you or put you down. You know his heart and you can sense that he wants things to work out for everyone. Anibal is so funny and fun loving and he brightens the room every time he enters.

Ha! I won’t go into details, but the first time I ever saw him trying to calm people down was actually on that gig in Galup, NM. Things got way tense on that gig and Anibal turned it around and made it one of my fondest memories (of course, this is my own perspective – the other guys may not remember it as fondly – they had a much LONGER trip back home – LOL).

This Life Builders series is about acknowledging those people who have contributed to my success in life. Anibal set the bar for me as a peacemaker. That is one of the most important differences he made in my life. When you see him in action so often, you can’t help but for it to rub off on you. I am not anywhere near his level in that respect, but his example is what I strive for.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Anibal. I took this on a gig we had backing up a famous salsa singer named Cheo Feliciano.

Keen Musical Leadership

I have always been amazed by Anibal’s ability to lead the band while playing his part and never dropping a beat. In almost every salsa gig I ever did with Anibal (as well as the church gig we played together for almost ten years), he was the one giving cues and playing the role of music director for the band. Anibal has this uncanny ability to communicate in the most efficient manner. In many instances, Anibal saved the gig when things started getting a little rough.

This picture to the left shows Anibal in that leadership role. He takes that part of the gig very seriously and his attitude has paid off. He is really the best at what he does and I doubt many would dispute it.

Anibal’s seriousness on the bandstand is in stark contrast to the way he is off the stage. Off stage he is the fun loving friend everyone wants to hang out with. On stage, he is the leader and business is business. I appreciate his ability to separate work from play and this is one of the ways he inspires me.

There’s a great lesson to be learned from Anibal about leadership. Yes, have fun when it’s time to enjoy yourself. But when it’s time to work, take your craft very seriously.

Thank You Anibal

Anibal is a genuine “cat” that everyone I know loves like a brother. We don’t work together much anymore, but over twenty-five years of working with him on various bands has left a lasting impression on the way I see what we do in this music industry.

Thank you Anibal for all you do. Thank you for being true to who you are. I miss working with you but I want you to know that you made a difference in my life.

2 Responses

  1. Dena Blue

    Anibal.. is a great guy.. a marvelous role model.. and phenomenal entertainer.. as are you Eddie Lewis.. wonderful post as always…

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