Following a string of four internationally successful recordings for Heads Up, Roberto Perera continues to explore new and creative ways to adapt his folkloric instrument with contemporary jazz on Harp and Soul. Blending rhythms from around the world, Perera's musical vision reflects Latin, Pop, Jazz, Afro-Cuban, New Age and South American influences. This kaleidoscope of original sounds has brought Perera the recognition of being a pioneer in sophisticated contemporary music.
His creations consist largely of change: changing and combining musical types, rapidly shifting rhythms and many diverse sounds working together and alone in a finely tuned way. A lush dreamscape of musical introspection infused with strong rhythmic currents and an exotic alluring musical flavor blend together in a triumphant musical free-for-all with an aggressive beauty.
As he demonstrates on Harp and Soul, Perera is a master of taking disparate elements and forging them into strikingly individual works of singular beauty. "The harp is an instrument completely foreign to my country." His South Atlantic homeland of Uruguay, South America's smallest republic is noted for its prosperity, cosmopolitan air and well educated, European-descended populace.
"Harp and Soul is a little different than my previous albums," Perera says, explaining that on the earlier ventures he had used both the traditional Paraguayan folk harp and one with sharping levers to allow it to be played in different keys. On Harp and Soul, with the exception of one tune, he uses the unmodified folk instrument exclusively. "It's difficult to travel with two harps," he comments, "so I wanted to perform music that I can play wherever I go, whether it's with my own group or solo, which I also greatly enjoy. And I decided to write more original songs".
The album opens with the aptly titled Perera original "Romantica," a lush unforgettable melody that brims with passion. "The song, and its appeal to the public, says a lot about my style," comments the harpist as he relates being cautioned by a concert promoter in the Dominican Republic not to perform any ballads. "The promoter said, `People here don't like slow music,' but we played it anyway, and afterward to a standing ovation the audience screamed, `Hey, play it again!'"
And that's what Perera's fans will do time and time again with every track on his engaging new album. From the inventive salsa version of "Hotel California," the Eagles hit adapted remarkably well to the Perera touch, to the rhythmic effervescence of the Spanish-flavored "Place In The Sun," to "Malambo," a wistful song based on the Argentine rhythm for which it was named, Perera and his band make consistently inviting and invigorating music.
Known as much for his gentlemanly manner as his elegant music, Perera acknowledges his well deserved reputation of being honest and straightforward, characteristics which also apply to his art. "I take playing the harp as a gift," he says. It's a gift shared once more on Harp and Soul.