Roberto Fonseca: Love From London

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(Love From London is an ongoing series where correspondents Alex Kenning and Izzy Lawrence introduce us to bands generating excitement across the pond.)

He comes from Cuba and over the last few years, he has worked on projects will Gilles Peterson (The Havana Cultura project), Ibrahim Ferrer & Cuban singer Danay.

The first time I saw Fonseca was in and swanky Jazz café in Cuba in 2009.  I was out there making a documentary with Gilles and Roberto’s fantastic piano playing blew me away. Gilles and Roberto collaborated to produce their first Havana Cultura album and getting to know Roberto also made me realize how musically gifted this guy really his.

Fast forward to now and Fonseca has made a brilliant album entitled  ‘Yo’, Spanish for ‘I ‘ or ‘Me’ – He explained at his recent live performance at the Barbican in London that it is very much his work, his ideas, his music and his emotions.

It’s a great album, one for the Fonseca purists – it’s jazz, which a heavy influence of rumba, combining grooves with electronic beats and even some vocals from Fonseca himself.

Preview of 80s (remix) here:

80’s (remix)- Taken from the album YO by Roberto_Fonseca

Fonseca seems so relaxed when he’s playing piano, even with some of the most technically difficult pieces to play. He causally swings his right left back and forward like a child on a swing. This album allows Fonseca to showcase his skills and his natural musicianship.

His current live show is most certainly a group effort and each musician played really well. The connection they all have with each other is obvious, with many infectious smiles being exchanged throughout the show. Big props Baba Sissoko on African percussion, Joel Hierrezuelo on Cuban percussion, Ramsés Rodríguez on drums, Yandy Martínez on bass, Jorge Chicoyon guitar, Javier Zalba on sax, flute and clarinet and Sekou Kouyate on kora.

A special guest appearance from Fatoumata Diawara was the icing on the cake, and she is definitely another name to watch out for. You can listen to her amazing vocal talent here.

– Alex Kenning