Born in Havana, Cuba in April 6, 1963, Luis Mario’s earliest musical influences came from his father Luis Ochoa Sr. singer, guitarist and founding member of “Trio Voces de Oro”, one of Cuba’s most romantic ensembles.
At the age of 11, Luis Mario began full time music studies at some of Havana’s most renowned conservatories. After 13 years of intense studies, he graduated with an Honors B.A. in classical guitar from the University of Havana’s Institute Superior of Arts (ISA). While most of his extensive learning was in the classical genre, his heart never abandoned his roots in “popular music”.
In 1990 Luis Mario moved to Toronto, Canada, embracing the city as his new home. In 1992, he formed his band Cimarron, (See-mah-rón, meaning “free spirit”), and three years later recorded their first CD A La Cubana. Being one of the first recordings to emerge from Toronto’s Latin music scene, the album introduced Canadian audiences to the ensemble’s unique sound; tracks from this CD were featured on the TV series Traders.
La Fiesta was released in 2000 to both media and audience acclaim. Tracks from this release have been featured in the US production Brave New Girl, and Bailey’s Billions, a Canadian production, as well as in the TV series The Associates.
Apart from his productive composing, arranging, performing schedule, Luis Mario also teaches at the renowned Humber College Institute, where he conducts a Latin Jazz combo and the Humber Latin Big Band.
His 2005 release “Cimarron” is a fusion of Cuban music with elements of jazz. The self-titled CD hit the streets on January 15th, 2006 and included an all-stars cast of jazz and Latin musicians from Toronto, as well as three very special guests: Paquito D’ Rivera, Guido Basso and Luis’ father Luis Ochoa Sr. Cimarrón was a landmark disc for Luis Mario Ochoa, presenting his talents as a vocalist, guitarist, composer and arranger.
In May 2008, Luis Mario’s released his 4th CD Momentos Cubanos – his first with his quintet. A nominee in 2007 for Canadian Latin Jazz Artist of the Year, Ochoa is joined here by acclaimed Cuban pianist Hilario Durán, Paco Luviano on bass, Jorge Luis Torres “Papiosco” and Luis Orbegoso on percussion. The program of four originals and five classic Latin American songs ranges from rumba to samba, bolero to waltz, son to cha. Momentos Cubanos clearly demonstrates why Ochoa has been hailed for his “…fire, finesse and authenticity” (/JazzTimes) and for creating “…high caliber Latin jazz [that] cooks” (Descarg.com). The CD reached the # 2 spot on the May/Jun world music charts at Earshot and Chart Attack Canada and stay on the top 10 for 5 weeks.
You can catch Luis Mario performing as a front man with his Acoustic Quintet, his 10 piece Cuban fusion group Cimarron, or his Cuba Tradicional Sextet, as well as a guest performer with the Viva Celia Project and the Hilario Duran’s Latin jazz big band. His music can also be heard on 91.1 Jazz FM in Toronto, Couleur Jazz in Montreal and CBC across Canada and NPR in USA.