Josef Koumbas: Waiting -- To Return to Cuba


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Born of an Irish mother and a Greek Cypriot father in London in 1944, Josef Koumbas formed his first band at the tender age of 12. He went on to spend 3 years in Australia, fascinated by the art and music of the aborigines. He visited Cuba in 1990, arriving with a Ronnie Scotts group from London UK, for what was to be one of Cuba's best loved International Jazz Festival. During that visit he met many of Cubans top Jazz musicians including Chucho Valdes and Bobby Carcasses.

Waiting (Tumi) is Josef's second release, a melting pot of Jazz with a twist of Jazz Fusion, Latin Jazz, Blues, and Rock. It was produced with Alexis Bosch Mendez and some of Cubans legendary figures: Roberto Carcases, Jose Ernesto Hermida; Pablo Calzado; Ramses Rodrguez; Osnel Rodrguez Otero; Emili Martini; Cesar Lozada; Cesar Lopez; Orlando Sanchez (CubaJazz); Carlos Manuel Millares; Orlando Valle (Maraca); Robin Felix Martnez; Amaury Perez; Sexto Sentido; Javier Ardericuza; and Emilio del Mont.

“I was born in Camden Town, London," says Josef. “My father was a Greek Cypriot and my mother was Irish, from Cork. I first visited Cuba in 1990, arriving with a group from Ronnie Scotts in London UK, for what was to be one of Cuba's best loved International Jazz Festivals. At the time my interest was more with photography than music, but along the way I became friends and remain so with many of Cuba's great musicians and artists including Chucho Valdes, Bobby Carcasses and Roberto, amongst many others."

“I knew I would come back to Cuba and did so several times, with an eye to developing my own music there," recalls Josef. “I found I had more energy to work in Cuba and Cuban musicians were very honest artistically. After listening to my music people have said they didn't realize the music was played by Cuban musicians. I am happy about that as I feel I can support Cuban culture by showing how skillful and adaptable Cuban musicians can be."

Josef is a member of UNEAC and has been invited to play at many events such as the International Jazz Festival Habana, Jazz Festival Varadero, and Jazz Cafe with Cesar Lopez. He had his own TV show called A Todos Jazz. His music is often played on national radio and television.

“As a 12 year old boy l had my own skiffle group and progressed through rock n roll, played and recorded with many musicians especially in London where I had a small recording studio in my house," explains Josef. He played at venues like Maquee and Speak Easy, where he once played to Chuck Berry, who came and congratulated him after the gig. He played alongside Jimmy Page when he was just getting started. “I always knew he would be one of the greats," says Josef. Josef also played and recorded with Dave Stewart before his Annie Lennox days. “They were always a special pair," he says.

“Later my interests became more jazz oriented and here I am living and working in Habana with wonderful musicians," Josef says.

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