Cuban band A3 performs live in Lahore

The band is in Pakistan as part of an exchange program.


At True Brew Records, a Cuban and Latin jazz trio called A3, enthralled the crowd with its unique sound this weekend — preserving the pace of modern music with the sophistication of classic jazz.

The band has been teaching at the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore as part of an exchange program organised by the Cuban embassy; they started working together three months ago before they moved to Pakistan and have been performing together ever since.

“All our names start with an A and that is how we came up with A3 — Ariel, Ana and Alberto,” says Ariel Jorge Pérez Caballero, an award-winning trombonist who graduated from the Superior Institute of Arts in Cuba. “We play all kinds of genres but focus mainly on Cuban music as it’s easy to mix specific sounds when you have complete knowledge of them.” He adds that the trombone is the main instrument they use, along with the piano and drums.

“Music is like an international language — you end up learning things in the place you live,” he adds, in regard to what they have learnt since arriving in Pakistan. The band also includes Ana Maria Oropesa, who has done her bachelors in music from the Superior Institute of Arts in Cuba and Alberto Batista Hernandez, who is a specialist in percussion as well as a professor at the National School of Music of Cuba. Together, the trio have found a way to complement each other and deliver high-energy performances. This is their first tour together and they will soon be recording a live single at True Brew Records.

The performance

The band’s performance was marked by several modernised classics. The first track was a jazz classic called “Punjab” and then they took a chance on “Caribe” — the song that brought Dominican music to America before making its way to the rest of the world. Apart from this, they also performed songs by Miles Davis, Maria Llosa’s “Paisa No Much” and a Cuban classic called “Chan Chan”.

“This is sort of like an anthem in Cuba, but I feel it’s more of a gift to you from us,” Caballero said to the crowd during the show. “Cuba is a musical country — we have a good musical system of education and we are proud of it. Proud of being a product of this system,” he added, saying it’s all about music and feelings for them and nothing more — no politics.

Sub-continental music

The songs they perform are not about resistance or any submission but more regarding culture. Speaking about sub-continental music, Caballero feels Indian musician Ravi Shankar has been an important point of reference for them when it comes to understanding Pakistani music.

“Many things here [in Pakistan] are similar to Indian music; we know Indian music through Ravi Shankar and this has made it easier for us to understand local music here in Pakistan,” he says. “We can integrate Pakistani instruments into Cuban music and also, mix western sounds into Pakistani music — it’s like we live in the same world now.”

The band is looking forward to immersing itself into Pakistani culture and performing accordingly. “When you enjoy music and express your feelings, everything works out itself,” he says about the band’s approach to music. “That’s the lesson — play music and enjoy.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2012.

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Ashok | 9 years ago | Reply

@indian: foreigners also go to countries like India and Afghanistan where their lifes are at stake.

indian | 9 years ago | Reply

@MK: i am not infatuated with pakistan just surprises me that foreigners still go to pakistan even though they know their life is at stake..........................

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