The Toronto Star - by Geoff Chapman
"Havana fun time at an Afro-Cuban Fiesta. HAVANA TO TORONTO"
Luis Mario Ochoa, a 10-year Torontonian shows his roots on La Fiesta. La Fiesta (LMOCD1)
Havana-born Luis Mario Ochoa's warm tenor voice dominates his second CD featuring the band Cimarrón, which he formed shortly after settling in Toronto in 1990. The nine-tune session smartly underlines the priority he places on Afro-Cuban roots amid a sparkling fusion of steamy Cuban and Puerto Rican salsa. Charts and ensembles are tough and tight and the beat tougher still on a classy release from a future star who wrote all the songs.
Americas Magazine - by Mark Holston
The rapid pace in recent decades of immigration in Canada by people from throughout the world, particularly Latin America and the Caribbean has served to infuse new vitality into that nation's arts community. The arrival of diverse talent Canadian artist to initiate collaborations that lead to rewards for both the participants and their audiences. Three new releases by Canada-Based artists underscore the dynamic quality of that country's rapidly evolving, globally influenced music scene. Havana, Cuba native Luis Mario Ochoa, today a resident of Toronto, is a youthful composer, arranger and vocalist whose highly energetic take on the contemporary salsa tradition is firmly grounded in such venerated Cuban styles as son and guajira. Indeed, his robust orchestrations and rhythm section, often radiate the explosive, hard swinging essence of what tropical music purists refer to as "salsa dura" (hard salsa), an elemental derivation of the genre popular three decades ago. As a vocalist, Ochoa sings in a high spirited style that's instantly engaging. His orchestra provides an opportunity for many non-Latin musicians in the Toronto area to learn the salsa craft in the company of a promising young master.
Descarga.com - Editor's Pick
You'll be up and dancing within seconds of plugging this CD into your stereo. Like a double espresso, this high-energy salsa number will wake you up, and it will leave you wanting more. Luis Mario Ochoa, a very talented young vocalist and bandleader out of Ontario Canada, is someone that you should watch out for. All of the compositions on this release are his, and his band is tight and has no trouble keeping up with him. No fat here, pure beef. Recommended.
Toronto Sun - by Errol Nazareth
"Latin scene ready for Fiesta"
Don't believe Luis Mario Ochoa when he says there'll be more people on stage than in the audience when Cimarron celebrates the release of La Fiesta, their second CD, at the Bamboo next Thursday. And don't believe the Cuban-born singer/guitarist/arranger when he says, 'The CD's a piece of crap compared to our live show.' Even before La Fiesta arrived in stores earlier this week, those in the know were claiming it's the best salsa record to come out of Canada. Give this superb disc a spin and you'll believe the hype. Powered by a 13-strong group comprising some of this city's finest Latin jazz musicians, La Fiesta -- if properly marketed -- will take our Latin music scene international, the same way Maestro Fresh-Wes' Symphony In Effect brought attention to Canadian hip-hop. The music aside, there's an obvious attention to detail here that's lacking in the work of Ochoa's contemporaries. Put simply, the production and arrangements on La Fiesta are killer. In his attempt to 'do it right,' Ochoa invested almost a year working and hanging in Puerto Rico with prominent arrangers such as Louis Garcia, Ernesto Sanchez and Tito Rivera; mixing the disc in Miami with Frank Miret (who has worked with Gloria Estefan); and recording the album in Toronto. Of course, none of these heavy hitters would have given the humble Ochoa the time of day if they weren't impressed with his work ethic. 'All I did in Cuba was study music for 13 years,' says Ochoa, who began studying with his dad when he was seven and ended up spending hard time in Havana's noted music conservatories. 'The biggest lesson I learned from my dad and from the schools was discipline. If you want to accomplish something, be disciplined and work and work and work.'
The Jazz Report Magazine - by Bill King
This recording is something for the Latin music fans to carry everywhere. If you love salsa and pure vocals with robust horn and rhythmic grooves, then you'll play La Fiesta over and over again. This isn't a hybrid recording marrying jazz and Latin, but an earnest effort to showcase Luis Mario Ochoa's Cuban heritage and considerable writing and arranging skills. The production is first rate providing an enjoyable listening experience.
Hispanic Magazine - by Mark Holston
...How exciting to discover a truly dynamic new salsa vocalist whose talent extends to composing and arranging. Equally impressive is that Luis Mario Ochoa has been able to put together one of the season's most satisfying salsa dates, La Fiesta (LMOCD1), in his adopted home of Toronto. The native of Cuba and CimarrÃ³n, his largely Canadian band sounds fully the equal to New York City's best on this engaging, energetic session. Best of all, Luis Mario sings with a degree of heartfelt passion that's missing in the performances of many of today's young salseros. From great songs to smoking arrangements, La Fiesta is dynamite...