Review of ABUC new album by Roberto Fonseca

Fonseca toured with the Buena Vista Social Club and followed up this success with three impressive solo albums, each an exhilarating journey across his musical world. He is a superb stylist whose playing has often combined the explorative work of McCoy Tyner (a key member of John Coltrane's group in the 1960's) with funky Cuban melodies.

On his latest album ‘ABUC' (released on Coltrane's Impulse! jazz label) he has decided to explore his Cuban roots with a band which includes Buena Vista stars Eliades Ochoa and the trumpeter Manuel ‘Guajiro' Mirabal, new generation artists such as the singer Daymé Arocena and the rapper Alexey Rodriguez from hip hop group Obsesíon, as well as paying homage to the link between Cuba and New Orleans by featuring the wonderful player Trombone Shorty on the joyful opening track ‘Cubano Chant'.

The album is studded with highlights, especially when his all- star band settle into a groove and give him room to play, such as on the aforementioned opener, the evocative ‘Contradanza del Espiritu' and the beautiful bolero ‘Después'.

Fonseca is so full of ideas his music may sometimes seem a little eclectic, but on this superb album every track is grounded in the rich legacy of his Cuban homeland, and almost all 14 tracks are written or co-written by the man himself. From mambo to son, from contradanza and habanera to conga and bolero, Fonseca has produced a celebratory set which bursts with positive energy and love for his own legacy.

As he states in his fascinating (and interactive) album notes "we are a hopeful people, we're fighters and above all, dreamers". There is something for all Cuban music fans on this dream of an album, the best of his musical career so far. Two years in the making, It just might turn out to be his masterpiece.

Dave Willetts for CubaSi magazine, Jan 2017

Roberto Fonseca: ABUCImpulse!, November 2016

CD available here

Watch the video of track AfroMambo here

Catch Roberto Fonseca in the UK this March:

10 March 2017 – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

11 March 2017 – Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick

13 March 2017 – Barbican Hall, London