Roberto Fonseca

Born 1975.
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Roberto Fonseca in session for World on 3.

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Roberto Fonseca (born 1975, Havana) is a Cuban jazz pianist. From an early age, Fonseca was surrounded by music: his father was a drummer, his mother, Mercedes Cortes Alfaro, a professional singer (she sings on her son's most recent solo album, Zamazu), and his two older half-brothers, Emilio Valdés (drums) and Jesús "Chuchito" Valdés Jr. (piano), are also two young musicians of great international prestige.

After an early interest in drums, Fonseca switched to piano at the age of 8, and by 14 was experimenting with fusing American jazz and traditional Cuban rhythms; he appeared at Havana's Jazz Plaza Festival in 1991 when he was just 15.

Fonseca studied at Cuba's prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte, where he obtained a master's degree in composition, even though he often says that he was a really bad student. After earning his degree, he left Cuba to find his sound.

His first album, En El Comienzo, which he recorded with Javier Zalba and the group Temperamento, was awarded Cuba's Best Jazz Album in 1999. This success encouraged him to work on two solo records: Tiene Que Ver and Elengo, combining Latin jazz, drum and bass, hip-hop, urban music and Afro-Cuban rhythms.

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Links & Information

BBC Reviews

  1. Review of Yo

    Yo 2012

    Reviewed by Robin Denselow
    Fonseca is one of the most exciting musicians in the new Cuban scene.
  2. Review of Akokan

    Akokan 2009

    Reviewed by Jon Lusk
    This leading young Cuban pianist has made another wide-ranging and accomplished album.
  3. Review of Zamazu

    Zamazu 2007

    Reviewed by Jon Lusk
    'Zamazu' is a deftly varied and well-sequenced set that leaves a strong impression of...
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