Cuban Essence
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graphicsAn exciting and truly new sound is coming out of Chicago. Cuban-born composer/director and performer Waldo Ocaña brings a contemporary body of work to life with authentic Afro-Cuban rhythms and concepts in the form of a Timba (Cuban Salsa) orchestra. Songs of love, life and dreams are made accessible to a broad spectrum of listeners and dancers alike through lyrics sung in English.

Instead of traditional horns for the mambo sections, the arrangements call for singers, harmonizing beautiful melodies that dance over the searing rhythms of Cuba and the New World to produce the unique and luscious sounds of CUBAN ESSENCE.

Even though Waldo Ocaña left Cuba long ago, his passion remains deeply rooted in the tradition that has given us so much joy and fulfillment through its music and dance.

About  the songs

Although the driving force of these songs are Afro-Cuban rhythms and concepts. The harmonic and melodic characteristics of the compositions have a distinct Brazilian flavor. And it should come as no surprise, in lieu of the fact that I spent much of my musical youth, mesmerized, by the genius of Antonio Carlos Jobim and his ilk with the invasion of Samba and Bossa Nova. So, what we have here is: The seductive lure of Brazilian Samba - set against the irresistible tide of Cuban Rumba.

Waldo Ocaña

The "Cuba Is" tour

The 2011 Season saw Cuban Essence tour, under the auspices of Quad city Arts, artist outreach program, which reached over 5,000 enthusiastic listeners, dancers, and patrons of the arts, in Concert halls, Schools, Museums and Performing Arts Centers.

Currently we are in the final stages of completing a CD/DVD set of the "Cuba is" tour, titled:                     Cuban Essence - Live at Wallenberg Hall

The 2015 Season will find Cuban Essence in New York and other major cities. Dates and venues will be posted shortly.


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[Teem’- bah] n.

Cuban Essence plays, among other afro-cuban rhythms, timba. Timba is the Cuban counterpart of Salsa. The incorporation of several different styles and genres including Latin Jazz, Pop, Funk and Hip hop.

Though Timba is considered to be a form of popular music, the technical mastery of Timba is only possible through highly trained musicians who have solid theoretical backgrounds in Classical music, Jazz, Traditional Cuban music, as well as other international genres.