^
Keep New Times Free
4

Nu Deco Ensemble and Cimafunk Blend Their Styles on New Live EP

Cimafunk performing with Nu Deco EnsembleEXPAND
Cimafunk performing with Nu Deco Ensemble
Photo by Alex Markow Photography

Though you couldn't tell from the new EP Nu Deco Ensemble + Cimafunk: Live in Miami, the concert from which it was recorded had its share of obstacles.

Nu Deco Ensemble, Miami's own 21st-century chamber orchestra, had been eyeing a collaboration with Cimafunk, the Afro-Cuban funk singer, for quite some time. They were finally able to secure a date last November after Cimafunk was booked for the ill-fated Miami Beach Pop Festival. When festival organizers scrapped the entire event, Nu Deco and Cimafunk improvised and performed at the North Beach Bandshell.

And then came the rain.

"It was all day long. We were sure we would have a rainout," remembers Sam Hyken, Nu Deco Ensemble's CEO and cofounder.

Things didn't get any easier after Cimafunk landed in Miami. He realized he had left behind his performance shoes after his previous gig in Washington, D.C.

"It's hard to find the right shoes to dance in," Cimafunk explains. "Every [pair] I tried were too tight. They'd give me pain."

Still, despite the minor setbacks, the show did go on.

"It ended up with beautiful weather, and we had a great turnout," Hyken says.

It was an unforgettable night for all involved, but they figured that the show would only live on in concertgoers' memories due to the ephemeral nature of the performance.

However, much like everyone in 2020, Nu Deco Ensemble found itself with a lot of extra time on its hand. Soon, the idea to release a live album came about. When Hyken and conductor and cofounder Jacomo Bairos started digging through the archives, that beautiful November night with Cimafunk stood out.

Cimafunk performing with Nu Deco EnsembleEXPAND
Cimafunk performing with Nu Deco Ensemble
Photo by Alex Markow Photography

Nu Deco Ensemble + Cimafunk: Live in Miami consists of five songs from that night. Considering that Cimafunk and the orchestra had only met each other during soundcheck earlier that day, the performance is remarkable.

"Normally, we have rehearsals, but Cimafunk is very busy," Hyken says. "My job was to create the musical arrangements. Cimafunk put me in touch with his musical director, so we talked, and I tailored the arrangements to the way he performs."

"The beauty of an orchestra is we train to be a connection point for all genres," Bairos adds. "We train so we know our notes. We should, in theory, be able to look at any music and know how to play it. His energy, though, elevated our musicianship. It was his first time ever with an orchestra. And while we didn't do the concert with the idea of making an album. COVID changed things. We looked at this concert and said this was smoking."

Cimafunk is quick to reciprocate the flattery.

"It was really easy. They're a big band, but super tight. All the musicians were super cool," he says.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

In fact, Cimafunk says he'd love to have Nu Deco to play some shows in his native Cuba.

"They have an amazing theater where they have all the lights and stage that would be perfect to have them play with Cuban artists," he elaborates. "They'd love to hear this. It'd be super mega."

Nu Deco Ensemble is certainly open to future collabs with the fusion-funk artist.

"We were so proud to have a Cuban artist play in Miami," Bairos says. "Now to be able to share it with the world means a lot."

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.