Nachito Herrera Nachito Herrera is a Cuban pianist quickly gaining recognition in the United States. Originally from Havana Cuba, he has become a familiar face at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, MN since moving to St. Paul a few years ago.

Herrera’s career as a musician began at a very young age. When he was only twelve years old, he performed with the Havana Symphony Orchestra. In his twenties he worked as a pianist and musical director at the famous Tropicana nightclub in Cuba. During the 1990s, he was a member and director of the Cubanismo. As a member of Cubanismo touring in the United States, Herrera’s name started to become known around the country. Since then, he was invited to play twice at the Gilmore Festival, the preeminent piano festival in North America. Recently he played at Joe’s Pub in New York and just finished a forty city tour with the Afro-Cuban All-Stars.

 While in general a very talented musician, Herrera’s signature style is combination of Western Classical music with Cuban rhythms. Click on this link to get a quick lesson from Herrera on how he combines Classical music with Classic Cuban.Music lesson from Herrera 

The performance I attended at the Dakota Club on Nov. 28 truly showcased his ability to mix different styles of music smoothly. Cuban music and rhythm itself was created by drawing upon Spanish, African, and Indigenous influences. Herrera continues the tradition of mixing different cultures by combining Cuban rhythms with American Jazz. His music will easily change from what could be considered Cuban to Jazz and back again, but the underlying Cuban rhythms are never lost. An electric bass player, Yohannes Tona from Ethiopia, a drummer, Kevin Washington also from Havana, and a singer, his daughter Mirdalys Herrera, were the only accompaniment Herrera had. Tona and Washington kept the beat as Herrera’s fingers flew over his keyboards and piano. Occasionally Washington added in a bit of steel drum, emphasizing the Cuban flair in the composition. Mirdalys’ vocals added the richness of the music already being played and gave me a chance to practice my Spanish. She would also dance some salsa while singing which gave the audience a look at another aspect of the Cuban culture.

Herrera’s music is colorful and exciting. The Cuban rhythms will make your toes tap along inadvertently and put you in a good mood. His performances are casual and interactive as he encourages the audience to clap along to the beat. The atmosphere he creates is so warm, comforting, fun, and Cuban, that you will feel like you are in the Tropicana.  

The next performance by Herrera at the Dakota Jazz Club will be on December 18th and 19th. It is titled ‘Cuban Christmas’ and he will be adding his Cuban rhythms to Christmas classics. Check out the Dakota club’s website at and make reservations early because Herrera’s performances always fill up quickly.