OTRA - Afro-Cuban Jazz & Grooves
HomeGigsBiosCDsReviewsPhotosGuestbookPress KitLinksContact

OTRA was formed in Feb. 2002 by bassist Sam Price. After performing with other New Orleans-area latin bands that played a standard repertoire of popular latin covers, Price sought to create an original project that would empasize creativity, powerful soloing, and irresistable grooves, while honoring the afro-cuban roots of 'latin' music.

Cuban conguero 'Pupi' Menes and Price had played together in various latin bands. Columbian timbale master Cristobal 'El Canon' Cruzado was coaxed out of retirement from 20 years in a Bourbon St. show band (young Venezualan percussionist Gabriel Vasquez now alternates timbale duties). Saxophonist Brent Rose's incendiary, soulful playing was just the voice the band needed. When original trumpeter Bob Garrett left, Rose recruited Eric Lucero, a close friend and section-mate for many years. The two share great on-stage comradery and rare musical intuition. The final piece fell into place with the arrival of pianist/guitarist Rob Block from St. Louis in May, 2002. Block brought with him a wealth of experience from the St. Louis and New York latin scenes, as well as great writing skills.

Influences that can be heard in OTRA's sound include: The Fort Apache Band, Charlie and Eddie Palmieri, Arsenio Rodriguez, Poncho Sanchez, Mongo Santamaria and Cubanismo.

OTRA attempts to bring a rock n' roll attitude and excitement to its live performances, encouraging audience members to 'do their own thing' on the dance floor in an effort to help listeners relate to the music in a new way. In this way OTRA hopes to introduce many new listeners to afro-cuban jazz...not by watering it down or fusing it with hip-hop cliches, but with honest, passionate performances that intrigue the ear and delight the soul!

Sam Price - Bass Brent Rose - Saxophone Humberto 'Pupi' Menes - Tumbadora, Bongo, Chekere


Raised in Slidell, LA, Sam has been working in the New Orleans music scene since 1991. He has had the opportunity to perform in a variety of musical genres from Blues and rock (Rockin’ Jake, Irene Sage, The Desires) to Funk (New World Funk Ensemble, Smilin’ Myron), Bluegrass (Uptown Okra) and Latin (Fuego, Elegant Gypsy, Acoustic Swiftness, Fredy Omar’ and Hector Gallardo’s Impulso).

After a four year stint in the Marine Corps band, Brent went on to earn his Masters of Music degree from the University of New Orleans Jazz Department.

He has performed with Galactic, New World Funk Ensemble, Nicholas Payton, Frank Morgan, The Temptations and many others.

As one of New Orleans’ most sought after saxophonists, Brent currently performs with Quintology, Gatemouth Brown, Stanton Moore, New Orleans Night Crawlers, Joe Krown Organ Combo, Have Soul Will Travel, Chevere, The Naked Orchestra, New Orleans Street Beat and New Orleans Rhythm and Blues Company.

Born in Matanzas, Cuba, Pupi began his musical career playing drumset in Miami in the 60’s. He continued playing drums in a rock band called ‘Ocean’ before shifting to percussion to play with great Cuban sonero Ruben Gonzalez. Since then he has become a fixture of the New Orleans Latin scene, playing with many popular acts including: Santiago, Caliente, Elegant Gypsy, Pedro Cruz Band, Acoustic Swiftness, and others. He also toured and recorded with funk band Smilin’ Myron.

Pupi is currently a member of Fredy Omar con su Banda and a jazz group called Two Pan Sam.

Rob Block - Piano Cristobal 'El Canyon' Cruzado - Timbales Eric Lucero - Trumpet
Rob moved to New Orleans in March 2002 with his wife Tomoko, also an accomplished piano player, and baby daughter Mimava. Residing previously in St. Louis, he spent ten years teaching in the Jazz Department at Webster University, performing at the Adams Mark Hotel as artist in residence, and as musical director for ‘El Caribe Tropical.’ He performed for many years with St. Louis legend Willie Atkins as well as touring and recording with organ greats - Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes and Charles Earland. An in-demand guitarist as well as piano player, Rob currently performs with Hot Club of New Orleans, Ian McPhail Quintet, David Torkanowski’s ‘Organism’, Wendel Brunius and New Orleans Street Beat.

From Pat Jolly, June 16th, 2005:

It is with great sadness that I report the imminent passing of Cristobal 'El Cañon' Cruzado. The master percussionist/timbalero, known most recently for his powerhouse performances with latin-jazz group Otra, is succumbing to cancer in his lung and heart at Kenner Regional Medical Center, where he is surrounded by his family and close friends.

Cristobal is a native of Columbia. He resided in New Orleans for over 39 years where he played percussion with Ruben Gonzales, Grupo Santiago, Peter Toma Band, and Fredy Omar. He also spent 14 years on Bourbon Street as a member of the Chris Owens house band.

Cris' passionate playing always lit up the stage- his timbale solo's were awe-inspiring. And his sense of humor and infectious laugh (not to mention his fondness for flirting with 'la señoritas') are endearing memories that those of us lucky enough to have met him will have to treasure forever..we love you Cris!

¡Viva El Cañon!

A native of New Mexico via southern California, Eric has been a fixture on the New Orleans music scene for more than ten years. He lends his talents to a variety of bands including Sunpie Barnes and the Louisiana Sunspots, the N.O. premier rock band-Better Than Ezra, the funky soul-jazz group Have Soul Will Travel and the eclectic Naked Orchestra. He also performs straight-ahead jazz with Otra pianist Rob Block in his quintet. And now you can find him playing with the hard hitting Afro-Cuban Jazz band Otra....Enjoy!
HomeGigsBiosCDsReviewsPhotosGuestbookPress KitLinksContact

Join OTRA's mailing list for band news and events!
Your email: subscribe unsubscribe

 ©2002-20011 OTRA. Site Design by
Compulsive Creations.