Berta Moreno to Release New Album TUMAINI Tomorrow

Tumaini is a beautiful tribute to the Kenyan people and one that should be deeply treasured.

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Berta Moreno, New York-based, Madrid-born saxophonist, will be releasing her second full length album tomorrow, April 30th, on the Tiger Turn label. Tumaini is an uplifting and glorious musical journey that transports listeners to the vibrant landscapes of Kenya and expertly infuses elements of soul, jazz and traditional African styles. To bring her experience to life, she's enlisted her well-oiled Afro-Jazz Soul Project which features bassist Maksim Perepelica from Latvia, French drummer Raphaël Pannier, Argentinian percussionist Franco Pinna, Manuel Valera from Cuba on keys, and vocalist Alana Sinkëy from Guinea-Bissau.

A few years ago, Moreno embarked on a life changing volunteer trip to Kenya's Kawangware region. Described in the notes as one of the most economically challenged locales in the country, the versatile saxophonist spent a considerable amount of time with the young children living there, thus inspiring her to record Tumaini (which means "hope" in Swahili). The music is all original and is directly inspired by this resilient community, whose positive outlook and joyous attitude deeply moved Moreno. The resulting work is a powerful and profound narrative that takes listeners through Africa's Savannah landscapes and sunsets to the heart of Kawangware. Much of the music maintains an uplifting tone, deriving its momentum from the use of rhythmic ideas that can be found in the music of East Africa and juxtaposing it over contemporary jazz concepts of harmony and melody.

Standout tunes like "Karibu" and "Mandhari" maintain a modern aesthetic full of modular rhythmic structures that evolve through the compositions and often surprise with the astute ways in which they develop. The band also showcases its aptitude at generating rhythmic momentum on "Afrika" with an infectious groove that wouldn't be out of place in a Fela Kuti album, while the bright "Dance" maintains an effervescent Latin jazz style.

The introspective "Hope" is the centerpiece of the album expressing the deep personal changes the composer went through during and after her trip. Bringing attention to the stark contrast of the busy modern life in New York City, where it can be challenging to establish a true and honest human connection, with Kawangware where Moreno found a renewed sense of hope in people and human values. To reflect those dramatic changes, the composition starts with a sparse and mournful tone that slowly develops into lighter and more open harmonies, to outline this journey and transformation.

Moreno is a musical polymath on Tumaini, often switching between improvising over the forms, doubling written parts, playing harmony parts to other instrumentalists, and playing backgrounds, showcasing her ability to think of the saxophone in a broader function than just a soloist - though her solos are exceptional throughout. She is also a skilled composer with expansive ability; the listeners finds themselves in a state of constant discovery.

Berta Moreno is a seasoned bandleader who has brought her bands to some of the most notable festivals and stages across Europe and the United States, such as the North Sea Jazz Festival. A regular in New York City, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown Moreno was a ubiquitous presence at many of the New York City clubs. Her first album Little Steps was received with critical acclaim by American and European press. It was featured in Downbeat Magazine, won a Global Music Awards Gold Medal for Best Jazz Album of 2018, as received a nomination for Best Jazz Album by The 16th Independent Music Awards (US), and The MIN Music Awards (Spain).

Tumaini is a beautiful tribute to the Kenyan people and one that should be deeply treasured. Listen tomorrow on the platform of your choice.


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