The Danube Welcomes Latino Culture

Latin on the Danube
Latin on the Danube

As part of a series of musical evenings, Lazaro de Jesús Hodelin Thomas Y Su Sabor Latino recently performed a concert in the intimate venue of the Loď Café – Divadlo v podpalubí / Boat Café – Thea-tre Under the Deck. The smooth Latin music seemed at first to be an ideal background accompaniment, but by the end of the evening the whole place was on its feet singing Guantanamera, a famous Cuban patriotic song.

Concerts at the Loď Café take place in the bar, which is neither big enough nor well-suited for dancing, but Lazaro and his Latin ‘flavour’ – or Sabor in Spanish – somehow managed to warm the audience up and make them clap their hands.

“Slovaks are very disciplined,” Lazaro said with a laugh when asked to describe his central-European experience. “Cubans just start dancing when they hear music,” he added.

Lazaro came to Slovakia from his native Cuba in 2005 to sing in a Cuban-style bar in downtown Bratislava, but after four years he quit, first singing in a band and then founding Y Su Sabor Latino. The band consists only of Slovaks, apart from Lazaro himself. He said that except for the trombonist, who had already played Cuban (or Latin-American) music, he taught the other band members how to play in this style, which is quite different from the styles most Slovak musicians are familiar with. He admitted that currently, Cuban and Latino music is witnessing a boom, partly thanks to the relatively recent wave of zumba training.

Despite a calm start, Lazaro managed to draw the attention of viewers, involve them with his introductory breaks and, maybe thanks also to his imperfect Slovak with an exotic accent, make them listen. He sang some famous pieces, including those made popular worldwide thanks to the Buena Vista Social Club album and movie. Although he sings in Spanish, Lazaro accompanies his music with comments in Slovak. It was probably the music itself that changed the atmosphere the most, and the evening ended with standing ovations, everybody dancing and someone asking for an encore of Guantanamera. The band finally consented, encouraging everyone to join.

–Courtesy of The Slovak Spectator

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