The Band's Story

Danny Howard, a percussionist from the UK moved to Chicago in late 2008. With him he brought his passion for latin music and his desire to start a Latin band here in the States. Having worked in the music scene locally for 4 years he felt the time was right to put a latin band together. All the musicians that play in Contrabanda are working musicians and teachers in the city of Chicago. We strive to enjoy ourselves on stage, which should in turn make for an enjoyable outing with you. 

We can arrive in a vareity of sizes. Anything from a small Latin Jazz Trio up to a 10-piece Salsa Band with Vocals. We will always aim to work with in your budget or space requirements.

Please contact us for more info.

We love Latin Boogaloo, Latin Jazz, Salsa, Bossa Nova, Samba and many more styles.

Scroll Down to Meet the Band.............


Rich Lapka - Trombone

Rich Lapka is a native of Chicago who has played in many bands over the years. After graduating from Northern Illinois University where he played lead trombone in the acclaimed NIU Jazz Ensemble, he formed the Jazz Fusion group Juggular. From 1979-1991 Juggular played throughout the Midwest at clubs and festivals and their 1980 record Balls was played around the country and is currently available on iTunes. Rich has also played with the Pete Special Band, The Deja Vu Big Band, Bill O'Connell's Chicago Skyliners Big Band, the Pocket Fisherman and many other Chicago bands. Currently , besides having a blast playing in Contrabanda, Rich plays with the Jazz Consortium Big Band and the Reunion Jazz Orchestra.

Caleb Mitchell - Trumpet

Caleb moved from his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, to Chicago in 2008 to attend DePaul University, where he received his Bachelor’s in Trumpet Performance studying under Matt Lee and Tage Larsen. Since then, Caleb has picked up a variety of regular gigs across a wide spectrum of styles, genres, and types of events.

Caleb has played in horn sections for Latin, funk, and big-band jazz bands, as well as Afrobeat, indie rock, R&B/soul, and hip-hop/rap groups.

He has played principal trumpet in symphony orchestras, pit orchestras and in the DePaul Screamin’ Demons Pep Band at Madison Square Garden. Caleb also regularly lends his solo talents to wedding parties and church services, and is one-fourth of the Chicago for-hire horn section Revolution Horns. Other musical endeavors include playing at Chicago Blackhawk games, a performance on the Steve Harvey Show, playing trumpet for the Broadway musical I Love Lucy in downtown Chicago, and a coveted chance to perform in master classes for his idols Adolph “Bud” Herseth and Chris Martin.

Mark Nelson - Piano

Mark Nelson serves the Chicago scene as a music director, orchestrator, arranger, performer, and clinician. His compositions, ranging from strictly notated to highly improvisatory, have been performed and/or recorded by a variety of choral, vocal jazz and small instrumental ensembles.  His work as a pianist and keyboardist has been recorded for jazz, gospel, rock, and classical projects.

Currently, he serves as the chamber pianist for Pro Musica Strings, as keyboardist for Contrabanda, is Music Director for the wedding and event ensembles, No Reservations and the No Reservations Orchestra, heads his jazz piano trio, the Mark Nelson Trio, and works as a freelance musician for other ensembles.