ROBERTO FONSECA AWARD-WINNING CUBAN PIANIST AND COMPOSER ROBERTO FONSECA SHARES NEW SINGLE ‘AGGUA’ Clip out now ! (Album Yesun out 18/10)
Over the course of a glittering career spanning eight solo albums, numerous sold-out global tours, collaborations with some of music’s brightest stars and accolades including Grammy nominations and most recently, the prestigious Ordre des Arts Letters (Order of Arts and Letters) from the French Ministry of Culture, Roberto Fonseca – pianist, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, composer and bandleader – has become a reference point.
A few heartbeats into Fonseca’s new feel good single, ‘Aggua’, and there’s no doubting its creator. All the signatures are present: the impeccable finger-work. The innate feel for melody. The classical chops, contemporary references and deep roots in the AfroCuban tradition. The spirited, flowing creativity, building tension here, subverting song structure there, offering freedom, variety, elation.
Pa la rumba vamos ya/Que yo quero quiero guarachar We are going to the rumba/We want to enjoy the party
“This tune felt very natural to write,” says Fonseca of ‘Aggua’, on which he plays grand piano, analogue keyboards and percussion and contributes intimate, bossa-nova style vocals. “I wanted to represent my Cuban roots with a tumbao” – the core rhythm that nourishes salsa, mambo and Latin jazz, and a word often used to describe the sensual way in which a woman walks – “and I wanted to shake up some stuff.”
‘Aggua’ was originally an instrumental that Fonseca and his trio, drummer Raul Herrera and double bassist Yandy Martínez Rodriguez, developed and refined in their twice-weekly shows at La Zorro y el Cuervo, Havana’s hippest jazz venue. When recording the single, he added voice – his own, with harmonies from Yipsi Li and famed bolero diva Mercedes Cortes – and percussive flourishes including the fierce grooves of conguero Adel González.
Then, since ‘Aggua’ is a rallying cry, an open invitation to join in, have fun, be free, a wealth of other sounds from Cuba were added to the mix: “We have a little mambo and rumba, some reggaeton and hip-hop,” says Fonseca. “I’m combining all these elements to make something tender but also powerful and spiritual. This song is calling people to a party so nice it will fill your soul completely.”
As the stunning accompanying video by director Joseph Ros make clear, this is a party so powerful it calls forth the orisha deities of the AfroCuban Santeria religion – in this instance, Yemaya, variously the mother of Fonseca’s designated warrior-deity, Chango, the protectress of children and the mother of the sea.
With ‘Aggua’, Fonseca offers a taste of his forthcoming ninth album, Yesun, a trio-based masterwork that blends genres, leaps boundaries, explores new territories. Boasting guests features by the likes of rapper/singer Danay Suarez reedsman Joe Lovano and trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, Yesun follows 2017’s wildly popular ABUC, which traced the evolution of Cuban jazz and took it, pulsing, into the future. Or if you like, to Yesun. To now.