We're Miami, and Latin culture is in our blood. Whether you're actually from Latin America or the cold reaches of the Northeast, when you're in the Magic City, you're feeling the rumba beat everywhere you go. It's the foundation of Latin music, and no homegrown act brings it better than the Florida International University Latin Jazz Ensemble. Miami distinguishes itself as a center for musical fusion, with musicians from around the world staying on its sun-kissed shores and playing in its famous nightclubs — and the musicians at FIU have steeped themselves in that tradition. Started 25 years ago by the late composer, professor and Grammy nominee Michael Orta, the jazz ensemble is made up of music students performing on instruments that perfectly illustrate Miami's melting-pot identity, including trumpets, trombones, congas, timbales and shakers. The big band performs twice an academic semester, with concerts that highlight the improvisational nature of contemporary jazz and the rich sounds of the Latin instruments. While most live music takes a back seat to the pandemic, the group plans to concentrate on studio recordings until they can return to the stage.