Jazz Caliente: West Coast Cubans Make Music in Los Angeles

Dec 15, 2017

Miami is known for its "Little Havana" neighborhood, home to Cuban and Cuban-American culture since the 1960s.  On the other side of the US, the equivalent was Echo Park in Los Angeles. 

Although many of the Cuban exiles who settled in the Echo Park neighborhood have since dispersed throughout Southern California, there is still a strong Cuban music component in L.A.

This week on Saturday Jazz Caliente, we'll hear some holiday music from the group Cuba L.A., which is lead by flutist, ethnomusicologist and professor Danilo Lozano.

Cuba L.A. album cover, 1998
Credit Narada Productions

Cuba L.A. was formed to help keep the soul of Cuban music alive, and the band uses tradition as a foundation for exploration and experimentation. 

"With Los Angeles as a cultural hub, we're able to bring in so many musical sensibilities to the traditional music," says Lozano.  "Afro Cuban, Latin Jazz, dance music-- it's all here."

Lozano is a founding member of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and he's performed with countless symphony and philharmonic orchestras.  He currently teaches at Whittier College and presents "Inside Latin Jazz," a series that brings in leading Latin Jazz artists for a night of music and conversation at the college's performing arts center.

In 2014, Lozano gave an interesting TEDx Talk about growing up in the multi-cultural Boyle Heights neighborhood.  

Listen for Cuba L.A.'s very tropical version of "Deck The Halls" on Saturday Jazz Caliente this week.  In the meantime, watch their performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for last year's L.A. County holiday celebration: