on piano (Santana, Cachao). The Afro-Cuban Rhythm section is led by Carlos del Puerto Jr. on bass (Alejandro Sanz, Arturo Sandoval), Jimmy Branly on drums (Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chucho Valdez), Cuban timbalists Orestes Vilato (Celia Cruz, Rubén Blades), Jesus Diaz on congas (Tito Puente, Pete Escovedo…). The CD cover illustration is by the award-winning Martin French (Los Lobos, The Chronicle of Narnia).
Here are Raquel Bitton’s words regarding Rhythm Of The Heart, taken from the liner notes:
“Knowing well that Cuban music traces its roots equally from Europe and Africa, and since I was born in Marrakech, immersed in French culture all my life, Havana felt like home. Realities begin as silent dreams that completely consume your soul. The dream becomes a heartbeat, the tempo of the songs picks up, and the rhythm builds inexorably. The bandoneon, strings and horns blend with my voice and that rhythm, that pulsating rhythm! And we’re off! I dance, I cry, I hope, I touch, I love. I feel the lovers’ joys and sorrows, their longing.
“And who better than Tino Rossi — in his time a genuine movie heartthrob, the Rudolf Valentino of song — to conjure this musical dream world for me? Tino Rossi was born on April 29, 1907 in Ajaccio, Corsica. In the course of his successful 50-year career as a singer and movie star, he recorded over 1200 songs and sold more than 600 million records. Women wanted to be with him and men simply wanted to be him. His rolling, undulating R’s became the standard for Parisian speech; everyone spoke and sang like Tino Rossi.
“From Cuban composer Osvaldo Farres to French composer Andre Hornez, renowned composers flocked from everywhere to bestow upon him their treasures and he served them well. I listened to over 500 songs to lock into the 12 magical ones that felt close to my heart.
“I dressed them up as sambas, bossa novas, tangos, cha-chas, boleros, Haitian merengue and danzon. The rhythm section came from heaven via Rebeca Mauleon; the Afro-Cuban band is led by Carlitos Del Puerto Jr., Jimmy Branly, Orestes Vilato, and Jesus Diaz.
“My approach to Tino’s tangos comes by way of the Nuevo Tango of Astor Piazzolla. The sublime artistry of guitar phenomenon Ramon Stagnaro took this music to heavenly heights. The strings, including members of the San Francisco Symphony gave the songs that sensuous magnificence they longed for.
“I lived the dream.”
French jazz singer and recording artist Raquel Bitton, who has recorded eight previous albums, is recognized as one of the foremost interpreters of French jazz music in America today, and has been internationally reviewed as the greatest interpreter of the music from the Edith Piaf
repertoire. Raquel has performed her hit show, “Raquel Bitton Sings Piaf- Her Story, Her Songs” to sold-out performances at notable concert halls across North America - including three times at Carnegie Hall and once with the New York Pops. “PIAF- Her Story, Her Songs” celebrates the extraordinary life of the legendary Piaf through her songs. A 20-piece orchestra backs Bitton’s one-woman tribute to the “Little Sparrow.” Bitton’s unique, heartfelt renditions (sung in French) and her powerful delivery take her audience on an intensely moving and emotional journey.
The PBS docu-concert film, Piaf: Her Story, Her Songs, starring Raquel (originally released by Lions Gate Films) continues to air on PBS stations nationwide. Due to the positive response from stations and viewers and the large percentage of national market penetration, the license was renewed through 2017.