OTRA was formed in 2002 by bassist Sam Price. After performing with other New Orleans-area Latin bands that played a standard repertoire of popular covers, Price sought to create an original project that would emphasize creativity, powerful soloing, and irresistible grooves, while honoring the Afro-Cuban roots of the genre. Cuban conguero 'Pupi' Menes and Price had played together in various Latin bands. Colombian 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 camaraderie 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!