Born in Havana, Cuba in 1963, Luis Mario Ochoa began full time music studies at some of Havana’s most renowned conservatories when he was only 11 years old. After 13 years of intense studies, he graduated with honors in classical guitar from the University of Havana’s Institute Superior of Arts (ISA), today University of the Arts.
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 his first album A La Cubana. As one of the first recordings to emerge from Toronto’s Latin music scene, the album introduced Canadian audiences to the ensemble’s unique sound. It also captured the attention of production executives with tracks from this project featured on the TV series Traders.
La Fiesta was released in 2000 to both media and audience accolades. Tracks from this release were featured in movie productions Brave New Girl, and Bailey’s Billions, as well as in the TV series The Associates.
His 2005 release Cimarron, Luis Mario Ochoa & Friends, featured a blend of Cuban music with elements of jazz. The self-titled CD featured an all-star cast of jazz and Latin musicians from Toronto, as well as three very special guests: Paquito D’Rivera, Guido Basso, Hilario Durán and Luis’s father Luis Ochoa Sr. Cimarrón gave Luis Mario the opportunity to exhibit his talents as a singer, guitarist, composer and arranger to a wider audience.
In May 2008, Luis Mario released his 4th album Momentos Cubanos – his first with a new quintet. A nominee in 2007 for Canadian Latin Jazz Artist of the Year, the project included four original tracks and five classic Latin American songs ranging 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/June world music charts at Earshot and Chart Attack in Canada and remained on the Top 10 chart for five weeks.
In 2022, he launched his 5th album Forever Lecuona, a tribute to world renowned Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona – known as the Gershwin of Cuba. The album features ten of the legendary artist’s most beloved compositions presented in a concert style format that mirrors Lecuona’s ample array of styles. This latest album received exceptional reviews ‘…. Forever Lecuona – is a glorious tribute to the great 19th century Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona – glorious because of the performance of its principal artist – Luis Mario Ochoa, a Cuban-Canadian steeped in the nuanced emotions and magic of Mr Lecuona’s music.
Luis Mario shared his talent, love and passion for music as a teacher preparing the next generation. He also served as Director of the Ensemble at the renowned Humber College Institute in Toronto Canada, where he also conducted the Luis Mario Ochoa’s Humber Latin Big Band from 2003 to 2013.
Luis Mario currently resides in Miami, Florida, USA