Friday, September 30, 2016

USA: Roberto Fonseca- ABUC (IMPULSE 2016)

ABUC is the 8th album by Roberto Fonseca hes released under his own name and the first to appear on the Impulse! label. Teeming with rascally rhythms and burly brass and woven from allusions, souvenirs and contrasts, ABUC is a kaleidoscope of dancing colors with which Roberto tells a story: the great and rich story of Cuban music, from yesterday to today.

Ranging from contradanza and mambo to cha-cha-cha, danzon and bolero, and infused with the spirit of the descarga jam and hip-hop, Roberto narrates this story in his own manner; his tale swarms with subtly veiled references to the past, and he enumerates them in contemporary detours that are intriguing. En route, he prances over the keys of a Hammond organ, the sound of yesterday cutting across the sound of today (a touch of electro), and breaks free from the chronological thread to mingle different periods as the albums titles come and go or, at times, even inside one and the same piece.

You probably noticed that ABUC is a palindrome. It's CUBA written backwards.

The album opens and closes with the same theme, orchestrated as an overture and then transformed into a simple piano piece as the epilogue: Cubano Chant, a composition by American jazz pianist Ray Bryant (1931-2011). He dedicated this very beautiful tune to Cuban song. So I wanted to express my gratitude to him by beginning the album with that tune. American jazz, but re-created with the soul of the guaracha, says Roberto. The union between jazz and our music in Cuba is very significant with regard to the history of music in general. In inviting trombone player Trombone Shorty to play on this title, he wanted, he says, to show everything that binds Cuba to New Orleans.

Among many other remarkable guests who add their personal colors to this beautiful journey, besides vocalists Dayme Arocena and Carlos Calunga you can also take pleasure in hearing singers Rafael Lay and Roberto Espinosa Rodríguez from the Orquesta Aragon, trumpeter Manuel Guajiro Mirabal, and the famous guajiro singer from the province of Santiago de Cuba, Eliades Ochoa. Three singers are my heroes, apart from my mother, says Roberto, Omara Portuondo, Ibrahim Ferrer and Eliades Ochoa, who I was fortunate to work with on the title Tumbao de la Unidad.

This guajira astutely mingles electro effects and electric guitar with the instruments of Brazilian percussionist Ze Luis Nascimento surrounding the voice and guitar of Eliades. He sings an appeal for love, a call for peace in the world, and unity. A dream? Dreams are goals for which you have to fight a battle that never ends. Roberto Fonseca: Musician, composer, producer, storyteller, and warrior-dreamer.