Roberto Fonseca: Akokan (2010)
Akokan, he is proud to announce, is a Yoruba word that translates as "From The Heart." Here, Fonseca guides his ensemble of favorite musicians through a journey that examines relationshipsfrom the most precious one of mother and child, to ballads of the fallen. The result is music of hope played in a rich mélange of idioms from Yoruba to Spanish and Cuban, and jazz that Fonseca makes uniquely his own. His music reflects a singular voice, awash with deep emotions that emerge from childlike sentimentality to that of a questioning adult mind. Solos are deeply thoughtful, almost ponderous, with ideas that flow slowly from phrases that ascend like eternal questions, and then descend rich in possibility and the musical avenues he pursues with muscular technicality and textural elegance. He carries with him the tradition of Peruchin and Emiliano Santiago, melded indelibly with the jazz idioms of the great Frank Emilio Flynn. Still, when he annunciates a phrase, idea or dazzling run, it is all Roberto Fonseca.
As he did with Zamazu, the album begins with a tribute to his mother, the celebrated singer Mercedes Cortes Alfaro who, just as she did on the earlier album, seems to bless her son's new project by singing a fragment of a popular song with venerable feeling. Fonseca then unravelsalmost suite-likehis response to the "blessing for his musical journey." He feeds off the energy of those who keep him focused in a tender response to his mother, with "Lo Que Me Hace Vivir." His dazzling skill is on display almost immediately as he pokes and probes into the heart of the song. His characteristic mesmerizing tumbao, that bass line exploration vamp that accompanies right-hand runs, defines his thoughts as he emerges from the dense clusters of notes.
There is the side to Fonseca that relentlessly probes musical ideastheir tones and texturesto celebrate their discovery. There is also the reverent copyist who turns classic repertoire into his own. The beautiful version of "Drume Negrita," held together by Javier Zalba's woody brilliance on the clarinet, is truly unforgettable. "Siete Potentcias" features vocalist Mayra Andrade, as she voices mystically to a litany of saints; magnificent and ethereal, she adds to an album that is as perfect in its conception as in execution.
Track Listing: Fragmento de Misa, Lo Que Me Hace Vivir; Drume Negrita; Seite Potencias (Bu Kantu); Bulgarian; Cuando Uno Crece; Lento y Despacio; Como En Las Peliculas; Pequeños Viajes; La Flor Que No Cuidé El Ritmo de Tus Hombros; Everyone Deserves A Second Chance; Cuando Una Madre Llama A Su Hijo.
Personnel: Roberto Fonseca: piano, voice; Javier Zalba: flute (10), clarinet (3, 5), baritone saxophone (11); Omar Gonzalez: bass (1--12); Ramsés Rodriguez: drums (1--12); Joel Hierrezuelo: percussion (1--5, 7, 11, 12); Mayra Andrade: vocal (4); Raul Midon: guitar, vocal (12).
Record Label: Justin Time Records