Okan Duo Brings a fresh perspective to Latin and world jazz fusion.

On Feb. 22, The Living Arts Centre (LAC) continues its Hot Havana Nights! series with the duo behind Okan, a women-led band performing contemporary Afro-Cuban roots and jazz fusion.

“One of the most exciting Cuban projects to have emerged out of the Toronto Latin scene, Okan brings powerful vocals and high-level musicianship to their fusion of traditional rhythms, jazz and soul,” says Jose Ortega of Lula Lounge in Toronto. “Backed by some of the country’s top players, Okan’s charistmatic leaders, Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne, are ready to take their project to the international stage.”

Okan means soul in the Afro-Cuban religion, Santeria. Living and collaborating in the intensely multicultural city of Toronto has enriched Okan’s composition and performances, with influences from Turkey, Brazil and New Orleans. They have performed at the Beaches Jazz Festival and Canada’s first Women in Percussion Festival. With experience on both large and intimate stages, Okan performs as a trio to sextet.  

Okan was pioneered by two powerhouse award-winning female artists. Born in Havana, Cuba, Elizabeth Rodriguez is a classically trained violinist and served as concertmaster for Havana’s Youth Orchestra. Since moving to Canada in 2013, she has worked extensively with Juno-winning and 2018 Grammy-nominated ensemble, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, The Battle of Santiago and performed with Toronto’s top timba and salsa ensembles. Drummer/percussionist Magdelys Savigne, from Santiago de Cuba, graduated with honours in orchestral percussion from Havana’s University of The Arts. A Juno winner and current Grammy-nominated artist with Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, Magdelys is also an integral part of The Battle of Santiago and Bill King’s Rhythm Express. 

Tickets start at $35, and can be bought at the box office (905-306-6000) or online at livingartscentre.ca.  

Anyone who purchases a ticket to see Okan is automatically entered to win an all-inclusive Cuban vacation, courtesy of Hola Sun Holidays. Purchase tickets to two or more of LAC’s Hot Havana Nights! shows for an even higher chance of winning. Groups of 10 receive three entries in the contest and three more for every additional 10 tickets. Buy three tickets to Hot Havana Nights shows and save 10 per cent.

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