Artist: Berta Moreno
Label: Tiger Turn
Release Date: April 30, 2021
Following her experience volunteering with children in the Kawangware region of Kenya, Madrid-born, New York-based saxophonist and composer Berta Moreno was inspired to create music that fused her own jazz background with the traditional African styles of the region. Tumaini, her sophomore album, takes listeners on an uplifting and joyous tour of Kenya as Moreno reflects on her time in Kawangware.
The eight tracks on Tumaini, which translates to “Hope” in Swahili, are directly inspired by the resilience and optimism of the individuals Moreno met while volunteering for Little Ray of Hope School. Moreno is joined on the album by a multicultural outfit called the Afro-Jazz Soul Project, resulting in a seamless intertwining of elements of soul, jazz, and African rhythms. Throughout the album, East African influences are juxtaposed over contemporary jazz concepts of harmony and melody. This contrast is most clearly felt in “Hope,” where Moreno musically explores the deep personal changes she experienced during and after her trip, contrasting bustling life in New York City with the refreshing humanity of Kawangware. Some tracks like “Karibu” and “Mandhari” maintain more of a modern aesthetic while others, like “Afrika,” are more closely aligned with African rhythmic patterns.
Berta Moreno’s Tumaini is a heartfelt musical recollection of Moreno’s time in Kawangware and is a beautiful tribute to the individuals who live there. It showcases the mastery of Moreno and the Afro-Jazz Soul Project as they skillfully combine African styles with contemporary jazz and soul elements.
Reviewed by Chloe McCormick