Since the beginning of his musical career in the early 1990s, Cuban-born multi-instrumentalist ROBERTO FONSECA has stated his mission clearly: “I want my music to reach people who don’t know me, and I dream of one day becoming a point of reference for my audience.”
Born into a musical family in Havana, Cuba, in 1975, young Roberto originally gravitated to percussion, but started playing the piano at age 8 (the interest in percussion would eventually enhance his piano style). He began composing at age 14, drawing inspiration from Afro-Cuban music.
His appearance at Havana’s International Jazz Festival at the tender age of 15 was not only a revelation to audiences, but also the launching pad for a musical education that resulted in a degree in musical composition from the Instituto Superior de Arte. The degree was only the beginning of his education process. He saw every road after college as an opportunity to merge his style with other styles and create something greater than the sum of its parts. At 21, he embarked on a tour through Italy with singer Augusto Enriquez, which included performances on RAI, the state TV channel, which introduced him to audiences well beyond his Cuban origins.
Shortly after the Italian tour, Fonseca joined saxophonist Javier Zalba to form Temperamento, a group that became his creative platform for the next 15 years, beginning with the release of En el Comienzo in 1998. The album won the award for Best Jazz Album at the Cubadisco 1999 festival.
En el Comienzo was followed by three solo albums in rapid succession – Tiene Que Ver (1999), No Limit (2000), and Elengó (2001). In between these projects, he also composed the soundtrack for Black, a film by French director P. Maraval, and produced Un montón de cosas, an album by the hip-hop group Obsesión.
In 2001, he joined the Orquesta Ibrahim Ferrer – an alumnus of the Buena Vista Social Club – for a world tour that logged more than 400 performances throughout Europe, the U.K., South America, Australia, Asia, and just about every other corner of the globe. This was the beginning of an ongoing and fruitful relationship with various members of BVSC, including Omara Portuondo, who also invited him to join her on tour.
The intensive touring and multicultural exposure planted the seeds for Zamazu, a 2007 recording that integrated elements of his various influences: Afro-Cuban, jazz, classical, and traditional Cuban music. Follow-ups include his 2009 release, Akokan, and Yo (2010), which was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Latin Jazz Album.
In 2014 Roberto Fonseca gave solo performances (robertoSOLOfonseca) in France and Russia. He briefly toured in the U.S. as a trio. He also performed last summer with Mali singer Fatoumata Diawara and recently released the new EP “At Home” (Jazz Village). He will be touring in Europe and Asia in 2016.