OMAR Puente has been called a classical violinist with a heart that beats with a Cuban rhythm, a soul that is African, and a home in West Yorkshire.

He was born three years after the Cuban revolution of 1959 when Fidel Castro had taken power in Cuba.

Omar began playing violin at the age of eight and as a teenager he moved to the capital, Havana, where he had won a scholarship to study at music school.

Soon he was playing all over the world and Omar’s experiences have been extraordinary.

“Perhaps the hardest time of all in Cuba was the late Eighties and early Nineties, there was no petrol and very little food,” recalls Omar.

“In my parents’ garden there were no roses, just tomatoes, potatoes and vegetables.

“We didn’t have strings for our instruments, we took double basses on our bicycles because very few people had cars.

“We had to get telephone wire, peel it, sand it clean, then put it on the violin.

“We played very carefully to avoid cutting our fingers or our hands would bleed. Sometimes, though, the best music comes out of adversity and everyone has to enjoy the time that they live in.”

Omar eventually settled in Bradford, after he had fallen in love with English music journalist Debbie Purdy.

Life in Yorkshire, he admits, was a major culture shock.

“I arrived here and the ground was white and it was so cold – it felt like another world and I thought this is going to be hard,” he says.

“In Latin America you have a big family and you open the windows because it is hot. But whether it was coincidence, luck or destiny, I began learning a lot, I began playing in new ways and now Yorkshire is my home.”

Over the years, he has played with famous musicians including Jools Holland, Nigel Kennedy, Ruben Gonzalez, the Cuban pianist who was a member of the Buena Vista Social Club and Courtney Pine, who produced Puente’s first album.

“Meeting Courtney Pine was a huge step for me,” he adds. “Any time you play in Courtney’s band it is like a workshop, and he is such a wonderful musician.”

Omar has also maintained close links with both traditional Cuban music and jazz.

“People like different types of jazz, in the same way that different folk will like alternative clothing or fashion. But jazz is a type of music that allows you to be free because every tune has its own voice.”

As part of this year’s Summer Theatre, Omar Puente and his dance band play the Frinton Lawn Tennis Club this Sunday from 7pm. Tickets are £16 from the box office on 01255 676656.