14 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Robert Fonseca is among the best Cuban pianists working today. He spent large chunks of the ‘00s playing with Buena Vista Social Club’s Omara Portuando and Ibrahim Ferrer, but he doesn’t dwell too deeply on the past; he also works with British DJ Gilles Peterson. Fonseca’s own albums generally swing back and forth between Latin jazz and traditional Afro-Cuban folk styles that even predate BVSC’s sound. This comes into play on Yo, but there are other wrinkles—particularly notable are spoken-word passages from poets Mike Ladd and Nicolas Guillen. The presence of African players stands out as well, with the chattering n’goni, the harp-like kora, and African hand percussion adding rich color to the musical tapestry. Standout cuts include “Mi Negra Ave Maria” (thanks in part to Ladd’s work), the African-leaning “Bibisa," and “80s,” which opens the album and is then remixed by Count. Those hoping for something closer to the traditions of his homeland should look to “7 Rayos.” A pianist/arranger/composer whose tastes and talents know no boundaries, Robert Fonseca has created something singular on Yo.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Robert Fonseca is among the best Cuban pianists working today. He spent large chunks of the ‘00s playing with Buena Vista Social Club’s Omara Portuando and Ibrahim Ferrer, but he doesn’t dwell too deeply on the past; he also works with British DJ Gilles Peterson. Fonseca’s own albums generally swing back and forth between Latin jazz and traditional Afro-Cuban folk styles that even predate BVSC’s sound. This comes into play on Yo, but there are other wrinkles—particularly notable are spoken-word passages from poets Mike Ladd and Nicolas Guillen. The presence of African players stands out as well, with the chattering n’goni, the harp-like kora, and African hand percussion adding rich color to the musical tapestry. Standout cuts include “Mi Negra Ave Maria” (thanks in part to Ladd’s work), the African-leaning “Bibisa," and “80s,” which opens the album and is then remixed by Count. Those hoping for something closer to the traditions of his homeland should look to “7 Rayos.” A pianist/arranger/composer whose tastes and talents know no boundaries, Robert Fonseca has created something singular on Yo.

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6:24
4:32
5:20
5:29
5:04
5:11
5:16
1:21
4:48
4:30
3:41
3:36
4:07
3:56

About Roberto Fonseca

Instrumental in the global renaissance of Cuban music, Roberto Fonseca is a world-renowned pianist famous for fusing Latin jazz, urban music, and African rhythms with the sounds of his heritage. Born in Havana in 1975, he first began playing the piano at age eight and after graduating from university with a Master's degree in composition, teamed up with Javier Zalba under the guise of Temperamento to record 1999 debut En el Comienzo. A solo record, Tiene Que Ver, followed in the same year, and after 2001's double whammy of Elengo and No Limit, he then concentrated on touring with Buena Vista Social Club and Rubén González, and producing records for Asa Festoon and the late Ibrahim Ferrer. In 2007, he returned with Zamazu and followed it up with 2009's Akokan, 2010's Live in Marciac, and 2012's Yo. In 2015, Fonseca issued Ayt Home: Live In Marcia in duet with Mailan singer and songwriter Fatoumata Diawara on Jazz Village. The following year the pianist released ABUC, his recording debut with Impulse Records. The album revisited his Afro Cuban roots. Among its guests were Trombone Shorty, trumpeter Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal, vocalists Daymé Arocena and Carlos Calunga, and Buena Vista Social Club guitarist Eliades Ochoa. ~ Jon O'Brien

  • ORIGIN
    Havana, Cuba
  • BORN
    Mar 29, 1975

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