Toronto born bassist, Roberto Occhipinti, has played on and produced Grammy nominated and Juno award winning albums. In addition, Occhipinti is a member of the Canadian Opera Company, the Hamilton Philharmonic and the Winnepeg Symphony. Occhipinti brings together the worlds of jazz and classical music on his 2006 release, Yemaya. The bulk of the recording was done at CBC Studio 211 in Toronto, the Yambu percussion and vocals were recorded in EGREM Studios in Havana. The strings came courtesy Moscow’ s Globalis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Konstantin Krimetz. The jazz portion is a mixture and melting of traditional jazz arrangements with Cuban, Brazilian and Latin styles.
Occhipinti’ s appreciation for these musical idioms reveals itself in the music. In the opening number, Roberto’ s bass solo swings in nice cooperation with the strings. The momentum created by the opener, sets a good mark for the rest of the set. Solid playing ensues, Hilario Duran on piano and Phil Dwyer on the tenor saxophone standout. Dwyer’ s composition, "Bernardo’ s Tango", dances itself through the whole ensemble before each soloist takes his turn on the floor. Les Allt’ s flute playing recalls the latin style and reiterates that theme.
The serious overtones and dark colours from the strings, impose strong moods. Arranging the strings with more traditional jazz and Latin makes the whole musical package modern and original.
Occhipinti is very much at home in any of the classical, Cuban, Brazilian, Latin and traditional jazz styles. His arranging is very good, as is his technical command of the bass. He is able to play the right notes at the right times, a crucial skill of the working, modern day bass player. With the help of the Moscow Symphony and some effective soloing from Dwyer and Duran, Occhipinti manages a stellar release. Yemaya is a clear indicator of Roberto’ s excellent understanding, dedication and passion for all of these idioms.