Gabriele Poso’s “Roots Of Soul” is a great CD with a jazz base that’s fused with R&B and salsa. The 13 track album, released June 8th on the INFRACom! Record label, has both heart and heat, with plenty of tropical flavor that creates a unique and colorful vibe. “Sunshine” the intro track, has bright chords, and the warm voice of Tanya Michelle really drew me into this CD. Classy live strings and a relaxed tempo gave the singer plenty of time to be expressive with the lyrics, and the saxophonist and pianist were stellar in their solos.
Puerto Rican salsa takes the lead on “You Don’t Love Me”, featuring vocals from Osunlade. In keeping with the CD’s title, his voice is very soulful, and the horn section has great arrangements that punctuate wonderful Latin jazz harmonies. Gabriele is amazing on the timbales and congas, as Vincenzo Presta once again provides a great sax solo. “Freedom” showcases Franco Chirivi on an electric jazz guitar, as well as all horns. The main melody is supplied by the trumpet and sax, while the piano and percussion lay down a continuous groove. “Dona Flor”, one of my favorite tracks on the CD, begins with Gabriele Poso playing beautiful solo acoustic guitar that reminds me of the best of Antonio Carlos Jobim. The band joins him along with the joyful sounds of Dionisia Cassiano, with her wordless vocal melody doubled with flute. The strings and harmonica, reminiscent of Toots Thielemans, add to the authenticity of the flavor. This song is a sweet blend of tasteful Brazilian Samba textures. Marco Tuma is outstanding on harmonica.
“Into My Heart” has the most simple instrumentation on the album, and yet is very engaging to listen to, and this cut flows with another soulful vocalist, Nailah Porter. The pianist really embraces her voice with beautiful and intelligent playing, as the rhythm section supplies just the right amount of drive for this down tempo ballad.
Poso is a great composer and arranger, and this album leaves no room for doubt about that. With instruments like the marimba, the hand drum from Africa, and superb performances on the piano, guitar, and sax, there’s a complexity of sound that somehow translates into a very tranquil and easy going CD, that is also hip and powerful. Jazz and Latin lovers will find that “Roots Of Soul” is brilliant, energetic, and compelling.