César López

– Chucho Valdes, Irakere
“I found a sound that can sail between Classical music and Jazz”


I found a voluminous, even sound in all the registers, and that allows me to sail between Classical Music and Jazz!


César López started studying music when he was 10. Only three years later, he won the 1st Prize in the Cuban National Sax Contest. In 1985 he got a scholarship at the National School of Arts and, simultaneously, started his professional career with renowned Cuban musician Bobby Carcasés, who introduced César to Latin Jazz. In 1988, due to his outstanding conditions as a sax player, with only 19 years he was chosen by Maestro Chucho Valdés to play the sax for the legendary Cuban band IRAKERE. During 9 years César developed a fruitful international career with this band, performing at the most prestigious festivals, theaters and clubs, which gave him the possibility to share the stage with Jazz masters like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Winton Marsalis, Michel Camilo, Paquito D’ Rivera and others. In 1997, César decided to form his own band, “HABANA ENSEMBLE”. In 2006, CD “Andante” (BisMusic), obtained the Prize to the Best Jazz Album at the major Cuban event for the music industry, Cubadisco. Cubadisco 2008 set a hallmark in César López career: “Clásicos de Cuba” (Bis Music), displaying classic Cuban songs arranged for Habana Ensemble and The Havana Chamber Orchestra, was awarded with the Prize to the Best Instrumental Album and Best Live Recording, which won the Cubadisco’s First Prize. In 2009 he released “Cubop” (Kamita Records), an acoustic album with some of the most talented Cuban jazz players, a project they called “Los Cubanos”. He celebrated the 15 years anniversary of Habana Ensemble and recorded the DVD “LIVE” (Bis Music) in March 2012, and this obtained the Best Live Recording at Cubadisco 2014. In that same year, César recorded his classic music compositions with the Orchestra of Liseo Mozarteum as the album “Entre Cuerdas”(Colibri) and then with the band made the CD “Sonajero”(Egrem). Both albums won the Cubadisco’s prizes in 2015 and 2016. He recorded the live album of the “20 anniversary of Habana Ensemble with the Havana Soloist Chamber Orchestra” (Bis Music) in 2017. In 2018, he joined to ORQUESTA AKOKAN, formed by American and Cuban musicians playing deeply soulful mambo of the 1940’s and 1950’ with the rich compositional styles of Havana, New York, and beyond. Their first album “Orquesta Akokan” (Deptone Records) got various prizes like a Songline Music Award 2019 and it was nominated to the Best Tropical Latin Album of the 61st Annual Grammy Awards 2019 and the Tropical Album of the Year of the Billboard Latin Music Award 2019. He also takes part in the “CUBAN SAX QUINTET” which are structured from five of the best Cuban sax players. The first album “Saxofones Live Sessions” won the Cubadisco’s First Prize and was nominated to the Best Instrumental Album of the Latin Grammys 2019.
More About César López



Q:What is your internal experience when you feel REALLY connected to the music?
A:A sensation of expressive freedom!


  • Instituto Superior de Arte, La Habana, Cuba
  • Escuela Nacional de Arte, La Habana, Cuba





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