Lazaro Numa performs his 'Mi Cuba' show at 2020 Adelaide Fringe.Image: Facebook
Join Adelaide-based Cuban trumpeter and composer Lazaro Numa as he presents a journey through the vibrant music of his homeland in his show 'Mi Cuba' at Adelaide Fringe.
Born in the heart of Havana, Lazaro now resides in Adelaide and boasts over 15 years experience touring internationally with some of the best Cuban bands, including Afro-Cuban All-Stars, the Bar at Buena Vista Show and the Havana Meets Kingston Project.
Lazaro also composes and performs his own original music, recording his debut album 'Mi Cuba' in Havana with original Buena Vista Social Club member Guajiro Mirabal.
In the 'Mi Cuba' live show, Lazaro takes audiences back to the era of Benny Moré, Cachao and Pérez Prado when the infectious Cuban rhythms spread across the world.
Here, we explore Lazaro's fascinating background growing up in Cuba and find out all he has in store for Fringe audiences.
What will you be presenting at Adelaide Fringe for your 'Mi Cuba' show? 'Mi Cuba', is a unique hour-long show of my own produced music that commenced in 2016. I will take the audience through a musical journey of different Cuban rhythms, such as Changüi, Bolero, Danzon, Cha Cha Cha, son montuno, Pilon, Mozambique, Mambo, Son an Conga.
What attracted you to Adelaide as a city to live and work (apart from being a UNESCO City Of Music)? When I arrived in Australia, the first city I lived in was Melbourne. But my wife is originally from Adelaide. Therefore, we would travel to Adelaide three to four times a year where I would also play within different bands. With the arrival of my first daughter Valentina, we thought it would be time to move to Adelaide to have the family support.
What was it like for you growing up in Cuba as an aspiring musician? Growing up in Cuba as an aspiring musician was my foundation; my uncle was the sound engineer in my opinion of the best Cuban band of all times Irakere – founded by the pianist Chucho Valdes, in 1973.
I would go with my uncle and my dad, who was my uncle’s assistant at the time, to their daily rehearsals. This band was created with the best musicians of Cuba; for instance Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval and Jose luis Cortes who later became the founder of NG La Banda; another popular band in Cuba.
I grew up in a famous central Barrio (suburb) Los Sitios, where many of the Rumberos and Soneros came from; in fact where Joseito Fernandes the composer of the most famous guajira Guantanamera originated.
My neighbourhood surrounded me with many famous musicians, my front door neighbour was Ibrahim Ferrer inspiring me to be exposed to Cuban rhythms such as Son, Rumba as well as Afro Cuban Jazz.
The desire to be a musician was imbedded at an early age by being exposed to all these musical influences. I fell in love with the trumpet at the age of 6; where I started playing at the age of 8, this is the beginning of my musical career.
By the age sixteen, I had accomplished my first job with the 'Orquesta Sinfonica del Gran Teatro de la Habana who played music for the ballet and the opera. Being a part of this orchestra opened another window to be invited to play for Omara Portuondo, blessing me with the opportunity to play with some of the members of the Buena Vista Social Club including main singer of the band Ibrahim Ferrer and the pianist Robert Fonseca.
A year later I started playing with Alain Daniel, a very popular salsa band where I also played with a mariachi band. I was then offered a great opportunity to play Cuban music in Singapore, where I resided there for four years before moving to Australia.
Take us to 'your' Cuba for the day – what do we see, where do we eat and most importantly, where would we go for the best jazz Cuba has to offer? If I was to take you to my Cuba, the first stop would be my neighbourhood where you would hear then see the Afro Cuban religious ceremonies.
This would give you a good idea of the real Cuban roots allowing to hear the different bands playing Rumba and Son, while walking through the streets. This inimitable experience will inspire you to dance and sing along with the songs as you become familiar to the real Cuban living.
Since Obama visited Cuba in March 2016 there have been many new restaurants and bars which are all amazing, but if I had to recommend anywhere, it would be the roof top of my house where I grew up; you will get the best view of central Habana including the capital building while you indulge the best traditional Cuban cuisine that my grandmother has to offer.
To experience jazz, I would recommend going to Calle Obispo, which is a long street that will take you down central Habana to the famous ocean front El Malecon. This street is filled either side with bars of traditional Cuban music bursting of improvisation.
If this is not enough you can also visit places such as La Zorra y El Cuervo, Habana Jazz Café, Café Miramar, FAC which stands for Fabrica de Arte Cubano.
Have you been working on another album? As my first album was recorded in 2016, in Havana Cuba, where I was privileged to have all Cuban musicians including two from the Buena Vista Social Club. Manuel 'Guajiro' Mirabal and also Javier Zalba who was also a member of Irakere.
My plan for the second album is to have all Australian musicians who reside in Adelaide; my passion will always be sharing my Cuban roots, but I am also venturing in new fusion.
Anything else you would like to add? My plan for 2020 is to grow 'Mi Cuba' and expand this in many different areas, so be prepared for what is coming next from Lazaro Numa. Watch this space.
'Mi Cuba' is on at Nexus Arts (Adelaide) 26-27 February and The Pocket At Stirling Fringe (Adelaide) 28 February.