Many of us have come to know Lázara Martinez as the busy sole proprietor behind the bar at Pausa Art House. Scurrying nimbly to take care of patrons and getting the music underway with her standard speech to respect the purpose of Pausa as a listening space. Launched in 2013, Pausa Art House has become a jewel in the Allentown district. Earning a reputation for its wide variety of music of artistic quality and for its intriguing art exhibits that adorn the establishment.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know Lázara as a friend via many JazzBuffalo and Pausa concert ventures we collaborated on together. Involving local, national, and international jazz artists. A good majority saw overflowing audiences for several incredibly memorable concerts. And, yes, we hit a few duds and potholes along the way. Throughout it all, she has always maintained a steadfast optimism about the arts and doing what is good for the community.
The recent COVID-19 public health crisis is putting many establishments catering to the arts under severe stress. No doubt Lázara and Pausa Art House are dealing with the uncertainty about the future.
What many may not know is that Lázara is a very accomplished and supremely gifted musician. And, in this crisis, she is using her gifts as an expressive art form. Through a personal initiative, she calls Havana Loops.
First more about Lázara. The Cuban-born proprietor began her music studies at the young age of 8 in Havana, Cuba. Taking up the violin. She received her Honor Diploma from the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and later emigrated to the Dominican Republic to become a member of the National Symphony in Santo Domingo. Three years later, she returned to Cuba to perform with the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba in Havana. Establishing herself as a soloist and principal violinist with the Camerata Romeu. With the Camerata, Lázara appeared in many international festivals throughout the globe.
She eventually left Cuba for Mexico. While living in Mexico, she was a member of the Carlos Chavez Symphonic Orchestra, Orchestra of the State of Hidalgo, Camerata de las Americas, and the Minería Summer Festival Orchestra.
Lázara migrated to the United States in 1998. Attending SUNY at Buffalo and receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Media Production from SUNY at Buffalo. Graduating with Summa Cum Laude and Phi Betta Kappa honors. She went on to earn a Masters Degree in Documentary Production from the City College of New York. Throughout her time in Buffalo, Lázara has remained close to music. She has been a member of the Slee Sinfonietta, a substitute violinist with the BPO, the co-founder of the String Quartet Boléo and a member of the Afro-Cuban Jazz group “El Coco” with whom she recorded the self-titled CD ” El Coco”, released in 2017.
Havana Loops was inspired by watching the looping creativity of local musician Curtis Lovell (Zoe Scruggs), who has performed at Pausa Art House. Here is how Lázara described this latest project:
“It was the freedom, the endless possibilities, the discipline and creativity that captivated me about this medium. Predictable outcome many might think yet, the energy of the moment is ever-changing. That one chance at perfection each time a loop is created is pure adrenaline, also a reminder that nothing is ever perfect but, practice is your best chance at it.”
This project also gives her the opportunity to present Cuban music with all of its intoxicating rhythms. She states, “Cuban music is full of rhythms and melodies, and most every Cuban can dance to them. Exploring my innate abilities to do some of these rhythms has been the highlight of this project.”
Spend time listening to these creative loops of Cuban music that were filmed at Pausa Art House. Gather the family around as we stay at home – and dance to them:
You can stay in the “loop” with Lázara’s latest project here: Havana Loops. Let us hope that soon, we will also be able to attend Pausa Art House soon to experience the music we have come to enjoy these past seven years.
(Photo credits: Kendall Kay and Jack Zuff)