• frontpage-logo
  • NYI-homepage-mobile-logo

  • Zucchero performing at  at Tate Modern in London last summer. His new album is inspired by his trip to Cuba.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

    Zucchero performing at at Tate Modern in London last summer. His new album is inspired by his trip to Cuba. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

    When I heard that one of my favorite artists, Grammy-nominated Italian blues-rock singer Zucchero, had released a new album called La Sesion Cubana, produced by Don Was no less, I knew it was going to be a terrific project.

    Turns out the album had been a long-time dream.

    “My music comes from blues, from soul and from gospel,” Zucchero says.

    “This project is a trip from New Orleans to Cuba via Mexicali. Latin, Cuban and Tex-Mex sounds and rhythms melt together dancing. Hasta l’asta siempre.”

    The album reminds me of the time I was in Cuba two years back; there was just great, great music everywhere; in my hotel, on the streets, in the vintage cars … just everywhere.

    La Sesión Cubana features seven brand-new songs, as well as six newly arranged versions of Zucchero’s European hits: “Baila,” “Un Kilo,” “Così Celeste,” “Cuba Libre,” “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime,” and “L’Urlo.”

    The new recordings include “Guantanamera (Guajira),” original compositions “Love Is All Around” and “Sabor a ti.” Covers include “Never Is a Moment,” “Nena,” “Pana” (a duet with Spanish singer Bebe), and “Ave Maria No Morro,” a duet with Brazilian star Djavan.

    Each song was recorded virtually live in the studio to ensure the thrill of improvisation.

    In addition to the studio album, Manhattan Records is releasing a deluxe CD/DVD version with the La Sesión Cubana studio CD with a two-hour “Live in Havana” DVD.

    A one hour version of “The Live in Havana” concert is being featured on Public Television stations as part of their pledge programs. The program is being presented by WLIW.

    “Zucchero called and said that he wanted to go to Havana and record new versions of his songs with ‘Cuban rhythms and Tex-Mex guitars,” says Was.

    “I had no idea what he was talking about but it sounded like high adventure. After recording two other albums with him over the last decade, [2006’s Fly and 2010’s Chocabeck], I’d learned that Zu is a magnificent and visionary artist and that his instincts are golden.

    “So we headed to Havana on blind faith and, sure enough, his unique brand of Popular Italian Soul Music blended seamlessly with the incredible band of Cuban All-Stars who’d gathered in the studio to cut tracks with us.

    “In the end, great music always transcends cultural boundaries and the record turned out brilliantly. Zu’s cover of Malo’s hit, ‘Nena,’ is one of my favorites.”

    Over the course of his four-decade career, Zucchero has sold more than 40 million albums around the world and won numerous awards, including two World Music Awards and six IFPI Europe Platinum Awards.

    He was also nominated for a 2007 Grammy Award in the Traditional R&B Vocal category for “You Are So Beautiful” the song he performed on alongside Sam Moore, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton and Robert Randolph.

    Without a doubt, the album of the year so far. For more on great blues music, follow the Improper on Twitter, or subscribe to TheImproper’s FREE email newsletter.

    Names in the News

    Peter Abraham, Brit Brashear, Jodi Blau Ritzen, Butch Patrick, Wayne Avers, David Salidor, Roy Trakin, Janice Minn, Fred Goodman, Angelo Babbaro, Jimmy Sabitini, Victor Kastel, Jim Kaufman, Bruce Apar, Tom & Lisa Cuddy, CHIP.