Yo is both a wry and accurate title, for keyboardist Roberto Fonseca has melded a scintillating and deeply affecting collection of Afro-Cuban jazz, folk and idiomatic street rhythms that warrants your attention. He goes headhunting for vintage Herbie Hancock grooves on “80’s,” covers Malian griot Baba Sissoko’s “Bibisa” with the thrilling African thrush Fatoumata Diawara, teams with spoken-word artist Mike Ladd on the inspirational “Mi Negra Ave Maria,” and explores the music and mystical Cuban culture of Santeria healing protection on “7 Rayos.” That’s just the first four songs. Don’t miss Fonseca’s acoustic piano testimony on the bittersweet, goose-bumping blues ballad “Asi Es La Vida,” the midtempo Moroccan tune “Gnawa Stop,” or the mating of quiet storm and house musics on “Rachel.” Texturally, this is by turns dusty, gritty, loamy material, but it’s always well grounded in the essentials of the Afro-Cuban experience.Originally Published
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