Gabriele Poso is an internationally renowned composer, percussionist, and multi-instrumentalist; his sound weds classic African and Afro-Latin roots music to 21st century technology creating a seamless fusion of jazz, dance music, Latin soul, and various folk traditions. The longtime collaborator of Grammy-winning DJ/producer Osunlade, and music director of the Yoruba Soul Orchestra.
Poso was born on the island of Sardinia, Italy, and raised in Lecce, the capital of Salento. As a child he became obsessed with his parents' record collection, comprised of mostly jazz, soul, Afro-Latin, and folk musics. As he got older, he sought to re-create the sounds he was hearing, which completely preoccupied him. He studied guitar first, learning the basics of harmony and rhythm. Interestingly, the percussive, woody sound of the nylon-string guitar's body led him to percussion. At 19 he began a formal study of Afro-Cuban percussion at Timba School of Music in Rome under the tutelage of Roberto "Mamey" Evangelista, the most important representative of Afro-Cuban culture in Italy. After completing his studies in 2001, he moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico to continue his musical education at the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, and later attended master classes at Escuela National de Arte in Havana, Cuba.
While in Puerto Rico, he met Osunlade. The two began to share ideas and worked together almost immediately. In 2008, the DJ engineered and acted as executive producer for Poso's Yoruba Records debut album Music from the Genuine World, on which the artist played an impressive array of percussion instruments as well as synth, guitar, and vocals. Critical notice was universally favorable and, thanks to European radio, Poso was able to bring his one-man percussion orchestra to the continent's stages in clubs and at festivals. Later that year, Yoruba issued the digital four-track EP Genuine Remixes, with contributions from Zoetic, Afefe Iku, Ezel, and Boddhi Satva. The EP was such a success, it prompted more DJs and consumers to investigate the album, boosting its sales. Poso also appeared as the main percussionist on Louie Vega's & Boddhi Satva's "Life Is a Lesson" (from 2012's Invocation), as well as on a couple of compilations. The following year, he worked on Osunlade's Man ov Wirdz. Poso's Roots of Soul followed in 2012 on Infracom! Records. The set's diverse approach wed original compositions to Afro-Latin jazz classics, from "Tin Tin Deo" and "Afro Blue" to Bo Diddley's "You Don't Love Me." The set included vocal appearances from Osunlade, Nailah Porter, and Tanya Michelle. The press response was enthusiastic, as was global radio. In Germany, the record won Best Jazz Independent Production 2012.
Poso relocated to Berlin for a time where he cut his completely self-produced, solo, album-length suite Invocation for Germany's Agogo Records; it was distributed globally by K7 in 2014. Impressed by his organic sound and contemporary electronic language, Gilles Peterson began to play it regularly on his Worldwide FM show, prompting other deejays around the world to follow. In addition, the album became a club hit, furthering Poso's touring opportunities. That same year, he guested on the compilation Infracom Presents 20+Years Rooted in Jazznotjazz for Infracom! and Martin Iveson's Cobra. Agogo issued a 15-track remix set entitled Electric Invocation with remixes by Osunlade, Simbad, Gerardo Frisina, and others. Two years later, he signed to BBE. His label debut was the self-curated compilation Gabriele Posa Presents: Languages of Tambores. Subtitled "A Spiritual Journey Through the Cultural Heritage of Drums," it combined historic and modern tracks from legendary Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, NuYorican percussionist Bobby Matos, Brazil's Dudu Tucci, and Ghana’s master drummer Mustapha Tettey Addy, among others. Poso contributed his own "Cafe de Ochun" to the set. His touring schedule — on his own and with Osunlade — was intense and varied as he hit cities in Europe, the United States, and Asia. Despite his success, he considered starting a more secure job when his son Viktor was born. Encouraged by his wife, he relented and stuck with music. To that end, he returned to the studio late in the year and cut a 13-track set entitled Awakening, which featured studio versions of concert favorites as well as new tunes. The BBE-issued, self-produced album was a star-studded affair introduced to the populace with a pre-release, thoroughly reimagined version of Roy Ayers' "Everybody Loves the Sunshine." Awakening was issued in March of 2018. ~ Thom Jurek