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Editor's Pick: Roberto Fonseca

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Thursday September 12, 2013

From Downbeat

Roberto Fonseca, Yo
By Bobby Reed

Already a significant commercial and critical success in Europe (where it was released in 2012), Roberto Fonseca’s album Yo has just been released in the United States. The Cuban keyboardist is a terrific example of what makes 21st century improvised music so exciting: Fonseca is part of a generation of musicians who feel that all sounds from all countries are accessible to them, either in acoustic, electric or digitized form—whether it’s a traditional, ancient rhythm or a computerized studio effect. In the press materials for the disc, Fonseca says, “This is the objective of the album: to touch the African roots without forgetting where I came from, without forgetting Cuba.” He achieves that goal splendidly with an album that will have keyboardists pondering his lovely melodies yet also have dancers sweating to the rhythms. Throughout the disc, the album credits have separate entries for “African percussion” and “Cuban percussion,” but the beautiful thing about this infectious music is that Afro-Cuban rhythms, world music elements, jazz, dance music, spoken-word poetry and vocals (by guests that include singer Fatoumata Diawara) are all intertwined here in an ambitious, graceful way. The songs “80’s” and “Gnawa Stop” both include solo piano segments that illustrate Fonseca’s massive chops. For listeners who are itching to hit the dance floor, this disc concludes with remixes by Count of “Bibisa” and “80’s.”

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