Sunday, 4 March 2012

"Yo" by Roberto Fonseca - Review

Last time an artist bared his torso on an album cover was D’Angelo with his sophomore record “Voodoo” as far back as 2000. Bearing in mind the turn his music career took thereafter, let’s hope it's not the same fate that awaits Cuban pianist virtuoso Roberto Fonseca because he’s just produced the most mature record of his short, but prolific musical career.

Yo” (“Me” in Spanish) finds the Cuban maverick extending his remit beyond the natural borders of Afro-Cuban jazz and straying into the realm of traditional African melodies. The album’s opener “80’s” kicks off with an up-tempo piano riff supported by African percussion and n'goni that will make the listener sway from side to side. This track is followed by the mellower “Bibisa” with guest singer Fatoumata Diawara, fresh from her own success with her debut album “Fatou”. A mid-song kora-piano dialogue adds to the beauty of this track. Things can only look up from there, and they do, indeed, as evidenced on “7 Rayos” (“7 Rays”), a percussion- and piano-driven melody that samples the voice of Cuba’s National Poet and one of the pillars of Afro-Cuban culture, the late Nicolas GuillĂ©n.



Whereas up to now Fonseca’s work has mainly drawn from his Afro-Cuban roots (for instance, “Kowo Kowo” from his second album “No Limit”) and a degree of experimentation that's led him to collaborate with people like Brazilian producer Ale Siqueira (on the LP “Zamazu”, for example); with “Yo”, the Cuban pianist has made a record that’s set the tone for the future of Cuban jazz.

Roberto Fonseca will be playing at The Barbican on Monday 26th March. You can buy tickets by clicking on the link below:

http://www.barbican.org.uk/music/event-detail.asp?ID=12858

Disclosure: I got sent the album "Yo" to review by Serious, one of the UK's leading producers and curators of live jazz, international and new music. Serious produces events from major concerts, festivals, national and international tours through to learning and participation programmes, artist development initiatives, conferences and specially commissioned bespoke events. Visit their website at www.serious.org.uk  for more info.

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