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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Roberto Fonseca

By Michael Stone

Zamazu
Enja/Justin Time

Gifted Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca observes, “When I begin to compose, it allows me to express myself without words. Zamazu tries to capture the bolero’s simplicity and romanticism, while doing something different.” The stunning result is a fluid array of Cuban folk, jazz, funk, and global pop that gives Fonseca a platform for the love and generosity he invests in his music, as well as the regard he shares for his fellow artists. He salutes his mentor Ibrahim Ferrer with “El Niejo” (a Spanish combination of “boy” and “old man”) and “Mil Congojas,” which Ferrer often sang with Omara Portuondo, who also accompanies here. On “Misa Popular”—a fragment from a popular Cuban mass—Fonseca’s mother Mercedes Cortes Alfaro joins in she also cowrote the contemplative “Dime Que No.” With a solid backing band comprised of Javier Zalba (flute, clarinet, soprano and alto sax), Omar Gonzáles (bass), Vicente Amigo (flamenco guitar), and Ramsés Rodriguez (percussion), Fonseca is emerging as a major voice in Cuban music’s exciting new trajectory.