Liga Latina (Denmark) – Cuban, Latin and Caribbean Folk and Jazz is one long love story between the Spanish guitar and the African drum. From Guaguancó – practically the mother of all Cuban music – to styles such as Danzón, Bossa Nova, Cumbia and especially Són which with the influence of American Jazz in the 1920s led to the modern Bolero and later exposed throughout the world by legendary Buena Vista Social Club. Liga Latina is a unique gathering of driven Scandinavian musicians for whom it is a passion to convey the legacy of styles that originate hereof, at a high artistic and international level. Their acclaimed compositions as well as interpretations of the Latin song book, form an energetic sphere where creativity and respect for the masters go hand in hand. It has made them a permanent component of many Jazz and World music festivals with guest musicians from all over the world.
As the foundation, it is the internationally acclaimed composer and songwriter Mike Hecchi on vocals, Cuban trés and Spanish guitar. Michell Boysen on double bass who spent his major year of conservatory studies in Brazil specializing in latin genres. Bo ‘BoJo’ Johansen (Little Havana) on percussion, who studied at Instituto Superior del Arte in Havana and has written books on Cuban rhythm. Theo Hjorth on piano has been taught by César ’Pupy’ Pedroso himself of the legendary Los Van Van in Cuba, and finally it is Rune Krogshede on trumpet who has studied in Brazil and Cuba and toured with famed Cuban orchestra Chappottin Y sus Estrellas.
Heard as guests on the record are L.A.-based Danish jazz guitarist, Alex Olesen, Lasse Høj Jakobsen on violin and American-Cuban jazz vocalist Cassia De Mayo. The latter contributes, among other things. on the single ‘Cariño Corazon’ which came out last fall and got airplay on Cuban national radio. Spring 2020 saw the release of the entire self-titled album which is the orchestra’s first studio release to great International acclaim. The album is released on vinyl record as well as all digital platforms.
How did you learn to play? Where did you study?
It is the Internationally acclaimed composer and songwriter Mike Hecchi on vocals, Cuban trés and Spanish guitar – a personal master pupil to Flamenco and Jazz guitarist Quique. Michell Boysen who has spent a year of his conservatory time in Brazil specializing in double bass and Bo ‘BoJo’ Johansen on percussion, who in addition to a long musical work has written books on Cuban rhythm. Theo Hjorth on piano has been taught by César ‘Pupy’ Pedroso himself of the legendary Los Van Van in Cuba and finally it is Rune Krogshede on trumpet who also learned the trade in Cuba itself playing along side legendary Chapottin y sus Estrellas.
Who are the musicians that influenced you the most?
Buena Vista Social Club is certainly a main influence. This includes the many other great works of the individual Cuban artists from which this legendary orchestra is compiled: Eliades Ochoa, Compay Segundo, Rubén González, Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo to name a select few. Other influences are bossa nova masters like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto.
What are your thoughts and opinions on today’s jazz scene?
It’s strong and vibrant here in Scandinavia. Our music schools and environment are focused on exposure to jazz and world music. We keep getting new talent and style blends all the time and it seems to continue on. A lot of jazz festivals thrive in the Nordic countries and the sale of physical albums is still very relevant though most other genres today are listened to mostly via streaming.
Can you tell us more about your experience with the 7 Virtual Jazz Club?
We have just joined but by the looks and feel of it great expectations are well in order.
What are your future projects?
Right now we are working on material for our next album w/ Liga Latina and we aim to have just enough to get recording within the next six months.
Audio site: ligalatina.hearnow.com
[Thank you to Mike Hecchi for this interview] – Paul Smith, 7VJC Team