The Experience with Dedry Jones

FULL EPISODE

Roberto Fonseca

Host and creator of The Experience, Dedry Jones, talks with special guest, Roberto Fonseca. Roberto Fonseca is a dynamic Grammy-nominated Afro-Cuban jazz pianist, composer, and producer. Fonseca has established his reputation as a creative bridge between traditional Cuban music and the sound of a new era.

AIRED: August 03, 2017 | 0:57:02
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

DEDRY: WELCOME TO THE EXPERIENCE: CUBAN SPECIAL.

[MUSIC]

I'M YOUR HOST, DEDRY JONES AND OUR GUEST TONIGHT

IS CUBAN JAZZ PIANIST, ROBERTO FONSECA.

[MUSIC]

ROBERTO: MY MOM, SHE WAS SINGING ALL THE TIME.

MY BROTHER WAS PLAYING PIANO.

MY FATHER WAS PLAYING THE PERCUSSION

AND I WAS PRETENDING PLAYING SOMETHING.

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

DEDRY: ROBERTO, IT SEEMS YOU WERE BORN

INTO A REAL MUSIC FAMILY.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.

ROBERTO: WELL, I WAS BLESSED TO BE IN A REALLY NICE FAMILY.

MY FATHER WAS A DRUMMER

AND THEN MY MOM, SHE STILL SINGING,

SO I HAVE TWO BROTHERS THAT, THE OLDEST, HE PLAYS PIANO

AND THE MIDDLES ONE PLAYS DRUMS,

BUT THE SAME TIME I GREW UP

WITH THIS BEAUTIFUL, MUSICAL AMBIENT,

AND FOR ME THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT

BECAUSE THEY PUT ME INTO A LOT OF DIFFERENT TYPE OF MUSIC.

BUT FIRST I STARTED WITH THE DRUMS

AND THEN I CHANGED FOR THE PIANO.

AT THE SAME TIME WE WAS LIVING IN A SMALL APARTMENT WITH FIVE

AND OUR APARTMENT HAD ONLY ONE BEDROOM.

SO, YEAH, SOMETIMES IT WAS DIFFICULT,

BUT IT WAS BEAUTIFUL, WAS BEAUTIFUL.

THEN, THAT'S WHY I AM THE MUSICIAN THAT I AM NOW

BECAUSE I KNOW HOW THIS LIFE IS WHEN YOU ARE NOT RICH.

DEDRY: HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED WITH THE DRUMS?

ROBERTO: I WAS TRYING TO START AT AGE FOUR

BECAUSE I WAS SO IMPRESSED ABOUT MY BROTHER,

YOU KNOW WHEN YOU SEE A DRUMMER, BUT THEN MY FATHER-

I THINK THERE WAS CARE ABOUT TWO DRUMMERS IN THE FAMILY.

NO WAY, THAT'S A LOT OF NOISE

AND THEN THEY CONVINCED ME A LOT TO CHANGE TO THE PIANO.

THEY EXPLAINED TO ME THAT THE PIANO

IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL INSTRUMENT.

IT'S TRUE, NO IT'S TRUE, IT'S TRUE.

THEY EXPLAINED TO ME THAT WITH THE PIANO YOU CAN PLAY RHYTHMS

AND THEN THERE WAS THE TIME OF THE KEYBOARDS

AND THEY WERE TURNING THINGS.

I WAS REALLY CURIOUS ABOUT THOSE LIGHTS UNDER THE KEYBOARD

AND THEN THEY CONVINCED ME.

THEN I CHANGED FOR THE PIANO.

[INSTRUMENTAL]

[INSTRUMENTAL]

[APPLAUSE]

DEDRY: DID YOU ALL EVER SET UP LIKE A FAMILY BAND

OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

ROBERTO: OF COURSE, YEAH, YEAH.

MY BROTHER WAS PLAYING PIANO,

MY FATHER WAS PLAYING THE PERCUSSION,

MY MOM, SHE WAS SINGING ALL THE TIME,

MY OTHER BROTHER WAS PLAYING DRUMS

AND I WAS PRETENDING PLAYING SOMETHING.

[LAUGHS]

FIVE YEARS OLD, FOUR YEARS OLD, YOU MAKE NOISES A LOT,

BUT THEY WAS NICE TO ME.

THERE WAS LIKE SOME TIME FOR SURE I WAS OUT OF TEMPO,

BUT THEY WAS MY, MY FAMILY.

DEDRY: DID ANYBODY IN YOUR FAMILY

OTHER THAN YOUR MOTHER SING?

I KNOW YOUR MOTHER SINGS.

ROBERTO: THEY TRY, BUT THEY ARE NOT SO GOOD LIKE MY MOM.

MY MOM IS THE BEST SINGER IN THE WORLD.

YEAH.

DEDRY: SO, YOU STARTED PIANO WHEN?

ROBERTO: A LONG TIME AGO.

WELL, NOT SO LONG TIME AGO,

BUT I STARTED AT EIGHT YEARS OLD, I'M 21 NOW.

EIGHT YEARS OLD AND THEN WITH CLASSICAL MUSIC

THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT FOR ME.

IT WAS VERY IMPORTANT AND STILL VERY IMPORTANT,

THE CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THEN IN THE SCHOOL,

I LEARN ABOUT THE JAZZ OR THE BLUES,

BUT WE DIDN'T REALIZE THAT WAS BLUES.

WHEN WE FIRST LEARNED ABOUT BLUES,

TRYING TO PLAY BLUES, WE CALLED IT BLUE IN F,

BUT THEN WE WAS TIRED ABOUT PLAYING BLUE IN F

AND THEN WE START TO PLAY BLUE IN C OF THE KEYS,

C, YOU KNOW, F, G, A, B, C, BUT WE STILL CALLING BLUE IN F

BECAUSE WE DIDN'T REALIZE THAT BLUE IN F WAS BLUE IN KEY F.

SO THEY WAS PLAYING LIKE A BLUE IN F IN C

BECAUSE WE WAS CALLING IT LIKE THE STYLE,

YOU KNOW, BUT IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.

YEAH, IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.

DEDRY: WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALIZE

THAT YOU WERE A MUSICIAN?

ROBERTO: THE MOMENT WHEN I REALIZED

THAT MUSIC IS MY THING, I CHANGED A LOT, YOU KNOW.

THAT DEPENDS ON THE TEACHERS.

WHEN THE GIVE YOU THE POSSIBILITY

TO UNDERSTAND THE MUSIC, THEN,

IT WAS THEN WHEN I REALIZED I WANT TO BE A MUSICIAN.

[INSTRUMENTAL]

[INSTRUMENTAL]

[HARMONIZING]

[HARMONIZING]

[INSTRUMENTAL]

[INSTRUMENTAL]

♪ A BAILAR CONTIGO ♪

[INSTRUMENTAL]

♪ A BAILAR CONTIGO ♪

[INSTRUMENTAL]

♪ A BAILAR CONTIGO ♪

[INSTRUMENTAL]

♪ A BAILAR CONTIGO ♪

[INSTRUMENTAL]

[INSTRUMENTAL]

♪ A BAILAR CONTIGO ♪

[INSTRUMENTAL]

[INSTRUMENTAL]

HEY.

[INSTRUMENTAL]

OH.

[INSTRUMENTAL]

HEY.

[INSTRUMENTAL]

OH.

[INSTRUMENTAL]

[APPLAUSE]

ROBERTO: THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

[APPLAUSE]

DEDRY: DID YOU HAVE VERY SPECIFIC INFLUENCES

IN TERMS OF ARTISTS THAT YOU REALLY LIKED

AS YOU WERE GROWING UP?

ROBERTO: YEAH.

WHEN I WAS GROWING UP, FIRST, MY FIRST INFLUENCE WAS MY MOM.

WHEN I WAS REALLY LITTLE, WHEN SHE WAS COOKING,

SHE START TO SING IN THE MELODY OF ROMEO AND JULIET

AND THEN SHE WAS SINGING SO LIKE AN ANGEL.

SHE STILL SING LIKE AN ANGEL, BUT I WAS LIKE THIS.

SO FROM THAT PART,

I HAVE THE INFLUENCE ABOUT THE MELODIES, YOU KNOW.

WELL MY GRANDMA TOOK ME TO A LOT OF AFRO-CUBAN PARTIES,

SANTERÍA.

THERE YOU WILL FEEL A LOT OF DRUMS,

SINGING, IT'S REALLY POWERFUL.

MY BROTHER SHOWED ME A LOT OF FUNKY,

RAP OR ROCK OR WHATEVER.

I WAS INTO THE ROCK A LOT, TOO.

A LOT, A LOT, A LOT.

YEAH, BUT A LOT, A LOT.

FROM MY MOM AND MY BROTHER

THEY SHOWED ME A LOT OF BOLEROS, TRADITIONAL CUBAN MUSIC,

CLASSICAL MUSIC.

ANOTHER BIG INFLUENCE THAT I HAD WAS IBRAHIM.

ABDULLAH IBRAHIM IS A SOUTH AFRICAN PIANO PLAYER

AND AS I LISTEN TO HIS MUSIC FOR THE FIRST TIME,

I WAS THINKING, MY MUSIC HAS TO SOUND LIKE THAT ONE.

SO EVERYTHING IS REALLY SPIRITUAL FOR ME.

THAT'S MY BIG INFLUENCE.

DEDRY: WAS THERE ONE KIND OF MUSIC

THAT KIND OF REALLY STUCK WITH YOU THAT,

MAYBE YOU THOUGHT WAS YOUR FAVORITE?

ROBERTO: NO.

I'M SORRY, BUT NO.

DEDRY: NO, DON'T BE SORRY.

ROBERTO: I FEEL THAT I'M A MUSICIAN

AND THE SAME TIME, MY POINT OF VIEW,

THE MUSICIAN HAS TO BE REALLY OPEN.

THE MUSICIAN HAS TO BE ABLE TO PLAY ANY TYPE OF MUSIC.

WE MUSICIANS, WE ARE BLESSED THAT WE CAN CURE PEOPLE.

WE CAN TALK THROUGH THE MUSIC WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

MY ENGLISH IS REALLY BAD,

BUT I'M SURE THAT I CAN PLAY THE PIANO

WITH MY BROTHERS HERE

AND THEN WE WOULD HAVE A BETTER CONVERSATION, YOU KNOW.

SO THAT'S A BLESSING, THAT'S A BLESSING.

THE WORLD IS KIND OF CRAZY,

BUT WE HAVE THE POWER TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOU GUYS

AND THEN TRY TO CRY TOGETHER,

TO SMILE TOGETHER, TO DANCE TOGETHER.

THAT'S MUSIC.

[INSTRUMENTAL]

[INSTRUMENTAL]

[APPLAUSE]

ROBERTO: THANK YOU.

DEDRY: YOU ALSO PLAYED WITH THE, I DON'T WANT TO SAY IT WRONG,

BUENA VISTA.

ROBERTO: NO, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT.

HOLD ON.

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB.

DEDRY: THEM.

ROBERTO: SAY IT AGAIN.

DEDRY: BUENA. OK.

ROBERTO: HOLD ON, GUYS.

WAIT, WAIT, WAIT.

DEDRY: THAT FIRST WORD GETS ME.

ROBERTO: HOLD ON, HOLD ON, GUYS.

DEDRY: I'M LEARNING RIGHT NOW.

BUENA.

ROBERTO: NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

DEDRY: NOT BUENO.

ROBERTO: BUENA.

DEDRY: BUENA.

ROBERTO: BUENA WITH A ON THE END.

DEDRY: WITH AN A. OK.

ROBERTO: OK, COOL. ONCE AGAIN.

DEDRY: BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB.

ROBERTO: YEAH, THAT'S IT.

[APPLAUSE]

I'LL TELL YOU IN SPANISH NOW.

THAT WAS REALLY BUENO.

DEDRY: BUENO, OK.

HOW DID YOU COME TO PLAY WITH THEM?

ROBERTO: A GUY WAS PLAYING WITH THEM,

JAVIER ZALBA, TOLD ME,

"YOU KNOW, BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB NEEDS A PIANO PLAYER,"

BECAUSE RUBEN GONZALEZ STARTED TO BE ILL,

SICK YOU KNOW.

HE WAS REALLY OLD.

I SAID, "OK, OK," BUT I WAS FOCUSED ON,

ON, ON MY THING, ON MY ALBUM,

I DIDN'T PAY ATTENTION TO THE NAME.

SO, OK, "GIVE ME THE PAPER,"

"NO, NO, NO, NO, THEY WILL GIVE IT TOMORROW.

THEY WILL GIVE IT TO YOU TOMORROW."

SO, OK, ANYWAY.

WHEN I WENT TO THE STUDIO

AND I OPENED THE DOOR I WAS LIKE,

"OH, THIS IS SERIOUS."

IT WAS IBRAHIM FERRER, OMARA PORTUONDO,

GUAJIRO MIRABAL, CACHAITO LOPEZ

AND THEN I SAW MY FRIEND, SAID, "YEAH, COME HERE, GIVE ME,"

"I'M CONFUSED HERE, I MEAN, I KNOW THIS IS THE WRONG DOOR."

"NO, NO, NO, COME IN, COME IN, COME IN."

I WAS LIKE, "WHOA, NO WAY.

OK."

LIKE HERE.

BUT YOU NEED TO PRETEND THAT YOU ARE SECURE WHAT YOU'RE DOING,

BUT I WAS SHAKING.

ANYWAY, THE RECORD THEY WAS TRYING TO RECORD

WAS FOR PRODUCING THE ARSENIO RODRIGUEZ,

ARSENIO IS ONE OF THE GREATEST ORIGINAL CUBAN MUSIC COMPOSER,

ARSENIO RODRIGUEZ.

AND THEY WERE PRODUCING HIS SONG.

SO THE FIRST SONG THAT WAS LISTENED TO

WAS NO ME LLORES MAS.

A BEAUTIFUL SONG.

AT ONE MOMENT, A PIANO SOLO BY LILI MARTINEZ,

ONE OF THE GREATEST PIANO PLAYERS OF CUBA.

THAT PIANO SOLO WAS SO GOOD

AND SO INCREDIBLE THAT I WAS PRAYING, "PLEASE GOD,

"PLEASE DON'T PUT ME THAT SOLO.

"DON'T PUT ME THAT SOLO, PLEASE, GOD.

"DON'T PUT ME THAT SOLO.

DON'T, PLEASE NOT ME, NOT ME,"

AND THEN I ASKED FOR THEM TO GIVE ME ALL THE CDS

TO START A LITTLE BIT AT HOME AND THEN I WENT BACK HOME,

I DID NOT SLEEP THAT NIGHT.

THE OTHER DAY I CAME MORE PREPARED FOR THE THING.

THEN I START TO TOUR THE COAST WITH THEM ALL THE ALBUMS

AND THEN THEY CALLED ME TO JOIN THE BAND.

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

[APPLAUSE]

DEDRY: YOU'VE OFTEN EXPLORED THE LINKS BETWEEN CUBAN MUSIC

AND AFRICAN MUSIC.

HOW DOES THAT FIT?

HOW DOES THAT WORK?

ROBERTO: REALLY GOOD.

WHEN YOU RESPECT THE OTHER MUSIC,

EVERYTHING IS ABOUT RESPECT,

EVERYTHING IS ABOUT GIVING SPACE.

I'M CUBAN, I KNOW THAT CUBA IS REALLY STRONG MUSICALLY,

BUT, FOR EXAMPLE, AFRICA IS REALLY STRONG MUSICALLY

OR BULGARIA IS REALLY STRONG MUSICALLY,

ALL THE CONTINENTS ARE REALLY STRONG.

EVEN IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE MUSIC,

THEY ARE STRONG BECAUSE THEY ARE OTHER PEOPLE

BELIEVING IN THAT MUSIC.

SO THEY WOULD FEEL THE SAME THING

AND THEY WILL TRY AND COMMUNICATE WITH THE MUSIC

AND THEY WILL BE OPEN

AND THEY WILL GIVE YOU THE BEST THEY CAN GIVE YOU.

DEDRY: HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO FUSE

ALL THOSE DIFFERENT KINDS OF MUSIC TOGETHER?

ROBERTO: IN MY CASE IT WAS NATURAL

BECAUSE I GREW UP WITH THIS TYPE OF FUSION.

SO FOR ME IT WASN'T,

IT'S NOT DIFFICULT TRYING TO MIX,

"OH, NOW I HAVE TO PUT THIS," NO.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS MELODY AND RHYTHM.

THE MELODY IS YOUR BODY AND THE RHYTHM IS YOUR HEARTBEAT.

YOU COMBINE THESE TWO THINGS,

YOU CAN WALK AND YOU CAN LIVE BEAUTIFUL.

[APPLAUSE]

DEDRY: YOU ONCE SAID THAT SPIRITUALITY

IS CENTRAL TO ALL AFRO-CUBAN MUSIC.

WHAT DID YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAID THAT?

ROBERTO: SPIRITUALITY MOVE EVERYTHING, YOU KNOW.

ESPECIALLY THE HISTORY OF AFRO-CUBAN MUSIC,

SO WE SAID THE SLAVE CONTINUE TO PLAY MUSIC

BECAUSE THEY WERE TRYING TO SUPPRESS ALL THE ANGER,

ALL THE SUFFERING, ALL THE FEELINGS THROUGH THE MUSIC.

SO IT'S A REALLY SPIRITUAL THING

THAT HAPPEN ON ALL THE PLACES AND FOR ME,

I FOUND THE BEST WAY TO CREATE MUSIC IS SPIRITUALITY.

THAT'S WHY FOR ME SPIRITUALITY IS THE 99% EVERYTHING.

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

[APPLAUSE]

ROBERTO: ADEL GONZALEZ.

DEDRY: TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS

BEHIND YOUR LAST CD.

SEE YOU'RE WAITING AND I'M NOT GOING TO LET YOU DO IT TO ME.

ABUC.

ROBERTO: ABUC.

DEDRY: ABUC.

ROBERTO: YEAH, ABUC IS CUBA ABOUT WARS.

YEAH, ABUC, CUBA ABOUT WARS.

I'M REALLY HAPPY ABOUT THIS ALBUM.

IN THIS ALBUM WE DECIDED TO GO BACK HOME.

WHEN I WAS DOING THIS ALBUM,

I WAS STUDYING A LOT OF THE CUBAN CULTURE

AND THEN I REALIZED WE HAVE A LOT OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS

AND WE DECIDED TO PUT A BOOK

AND TO TRY AND TELL THE HISTORY OF CUBAN MUSIC FROM THE 50S,

40S, I MEAN 50S UNTIL NOW,

BUT NOT ONLY IN THE WAY OF PLAYING,

IT'S ABOUT IN THE WAY OF SOUND, TOO.

BECAUSE WE MAKE A SONG,

IT'S CALLED AFRO MUMBO AND THIS SONG HAS A-

I'M TRYING TO CONFUSE PEOPLE.

I PUT THAT SONG TO SOME FRIENDS AND THEY SAY,

"OH THIS IS AWESOME, THIS IS THE WORK OF SOMEONE,"

"NO, NO, NO, THIS IS NEW," "BUT IT SOUNDS OLD,"

THAT'S THE PURPOSE.

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

[GROWL]

[MUSIC]

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

[MUSIC]

ROBERTO: OK, OK, OK.

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

LET'S TRY TO SING.

YEAH, EVERYBODY WANT TO STAND UP,

YOU CAN STAND UP NOW.

YEAH.

YEAH, THAT'S IT, THAT'S GOOD.

THAT'S BETTER.

[MUSIC]

NOW IT'S PARTY TIME NOW.

[MUSIC]

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

THAT WAS GOOD.

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

ROBERTO: OK, NOW LET'S HEAR A LITTLE SOLO BASE PLAYER.

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

NOW EVERYBODY, HEY!

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO, AFRO-MUMBO ♪

♪ MUMBO ♪

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC]

[APPLAUSE]

THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

DEDRY: TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL CUBAN MUSIC

IS EVOLVING.

ROBERTO: WELL IT'S, CUBAN MUSIC IS THE BEST.

AT THE SAME TIME WE NEED TO TAKE CARE

OF OUR TRADITIONAL CUBAN MUSIC

BECAUSE THIS IS OUR ROOTS, THIS IS OUR,

THE TRADITIONAL CUBAN MUSIC IS THE MUSIC WHO SAY

FROM WHERE WE COME FROM.

I HOPE THAT THE WORLD CONTINUE OPEN TO CUBAN MUSIC

BECAUSE CUBAN IS THE BEST.

[APPLAUSE]

DEDRY: THIS HAS BEEN A VERY INSPIRING INTERVIEW

AND I WOULD LIKE TO THANK OUR SPECIAL GUEST ROBERTO FONSECA

[APPLAUSE]

AND AS ALWAYS,

WE WOULD REALLY LIKE TO END THIS EXPERIENCE WITH MORE MUSIC.

ROBERTO: DEFINITELY, YEAH.

DEDRY: OK.

ROBERTO: YEAH.

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

[HARMONIZING]

[HARMONIZING]

ROBERTO: THANK YOU.

[MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

ASERE MONINA BONCO.

[MUSIC]

[APPLAUSE]

[APPLAUSE]

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