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Guitarist Luis Mario Ochoa pays tribute to prolific Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona

Manuel Buznego
courtesy of the artist
Guitarist Luis Mario Ochoa

Guitarist, vocalist, composer, arranger and band leader Luis Mario Ochoa, the Cuban-born, Toronto/Miami based musician, pays tribute to world renowned Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona – known as the Gershwin of Cuba – with the album "Forever Lecuona".

Coinciding with the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Lecuona’s passing in 2023, Ochoa hopes that "Forever Lecuona" will keep the music of this prolific composer alive. The album features ten of the legendary artist’s most beloved compositions.

A primary force behind the emergence of Cuban music around the world in the early 20th century, Lecuona’s compositions reflect Cuban, African and Spanish influences across multiple genres including popular songs, piano solo compositions, and music for theater, ballet, opera and film.

Ochoa’s desire to pay homage to Lecuona began when he moved to Miami in 2014 to start a new chapter in his life and career. With a vast selection of music to choose from, he wanted to mirror Lecuona’s array of styles by featuring his tropical songs, congas, boleros, criollas, Afro Cuban dances and a Sevillana (flamenco) flavored song.

La Mulata Chancletera

Ochoa emigrated to Toronto from Cuba in 1990 after receiving a Bachelor of Arts in classical guitar at the University of Havana, Instituto Superior de Artes. In Canada, he expanded his musical career as guitarist, vocalist, composer, arranger and band leader.

Ochoa's first album in 1995, "A La Cubana" was among the first Latin recordings to be released in Canada and the first from a Cuban born musician.

Over the years, Ochoa has produced and released three additional albums: "La Fiesta" in 2000, "Cimarrón" in 2005 and "Momentos Cubanos" in 2008. He has recorded and performed with Latin jazz luminaries such as Paquito D’Rivera and Hilario Durán.

Listen for two selections from "Forever Lecuona" on this Saturday's Jazz Caliente.

Next week, we'll feature an interview with Cuban-born classical and jazz pianist Aldo López Gavilán. He's performing in Tacoma on April 29 and in Puyallup on May 1.

Additionally, "Los Hermanos," a film about Gavilán and his brother, violinist Ilhan Gavilán, is showing at Tacoma's Grand Cinema on Tuesday April 19.

Both the afternoon and evening screenings include a post-film discussion led by Karin Choo, the Executive Director at Northwest Sinfonietta, and University of Puget Sound Music Professor Anna Wittstruck.

LOS HERMANOS/THE BROTHERS | Official Trailer | Opens May 14

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. The show is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.

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Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.