May 2008

Momentos Cubanos
Luis Mario Ochoa Quintet Momentos Cubanos CD release
May 4, 2008 Lula Lounge Toronto
Cinnamon, Pearls and Rumba
by Joyce Corbett with photos by Roger Humbert
Luis Mario Ochoa’s Momentos Cubanos CD release was an experience to savour. Our ears were treated first to a room-warming Antonio Carlos Jobim instrumental leaving us ready, if anything could, for the perfection of Luis Mario Ochoa’s version of Ernesto Lecuona’s “Siboney”. The enormous passion with which Ochoa sings this intensely romantic piece is matched with equal finesse. Few are those who can sing a bolero as beautifully as Ochoa sings “Siboney”. This is definitely a song in which the voice is the star and the instruments play supporting roles yet pianist Hilario Duran’s scaffolds of chords and curlicues of notes, the solid bass and crisp percussion were all of the superior quality such a voice deserves.

The acoustic quintet of Luis Mario Ochoa on guitar and vocals, Hilario Duran on piano, Paco Luviano on bass, Jorge “Papiosco” Torres on congas, bongos and maracas and Luis Orbegoso on timbales, cajon and maracas played all of the songs on the CD plus a few others over the two sets of the evening. A true pleasure to listen to, these exceptional musicians exemplified how to combine sensitivity and energy in their playing. It was also a pleasure to watch how they listened to and enjoyed each other’s contributions to the whole.

As on the CD, the pieces were nicely placed to contrast and complement each other in an ever-moving flow of sound. After Ochoa’s outstanding vocal performance on “Siboney”, came an instrumental reminding us of his impressive skill as a guitarist. The piece was named “Simbiosis” because of the different rhythms and grooves the percussionists Orbegoso and Torres threw into its mix of latin jazz.

Another Ochoa original, “Si la rumba va a empezar” (if the rumba is going to start) celebrates the Afro-Cuban “rumba cycle” — yambú, guaguanco and Columbia — and combines it with Cuban jazz, the whole resting on a steady rumba clave. The “son” style with a little “changui” forms the basis for Ochoa’s dreamy “Momentos cubanos” and the samba is combined with Cuban forms in “Un habanero en brasil” and Ochoa’s arrangement of “Y deja”, written by the famed Cuban songwriting team of Giraldo Piloto (Sr.) and Alberto Vera.

The upbeat “El carbonero” echoes the call of a street vendor in a style known as prégon. “Perla marina” is delicate and poetic in lyric and instrumentation. Both are popular Cuban songs. The end of the night though, belonged to “Flor de canela” (Cinnamon Flower) with its Afro-Peruvian groove, deep, dramatic piano, pulsating cajon and the expressive voice of Ochoa. Played with much passion and again, much finesse, it was breathtaking.

Momentos Cubanos is a delightful synthesis of diverse and contrasting elements and qualities. It is traditional and modern, passionate and controlled, earthy and sophisticated. I recommend the CD but ideally, you should also hear this quintet live!

Luis Mario Ochoa

Paco Luviano

Jorge “Papiosco” Torres
The Luis Mario Ochoa Quintet
Luis Mario Ochoa – guitar and vocals
Hilario Duran – piano
Paco Luviano – bass
Jorge “Papiosco” Torres – congas, bongos, maracas
Luis Orbegoso – timbales, cajon, maracas
(on the CD David Virelles is the pianist on “Perla Marina”)


Momentos Cubanos tracks listing
1. El carbonero (Ivan Fernandez)
2. Un habanero en brasil (Luis Mario Ochoa)
3. Canto Siboney (Ernesto Lecuona)
4. Momentos Cubanos (Luis Mario Ochoa)
5. Y Deja (Giraldo Piloto & Alberto Vera)
6. Si la rumba va a empezar (Luis Mario Ochoa)
7. Perla Marina (Sindo Garay)
8. Simbiosis (Luis Mario Ochoa)
9. Flor de canela (Chabuca Granda)
We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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