Raquel Bitton | Rhythm of the Heart

Rhythm of the Heart

Raquel Bitton

Available in stores and online

Rhythm of the Heart Artists

Raquel is accompanied by a 21 piece orchestra including members of the San Francisco Symphony and the hottest Afro-Cuban band. Raquel sings in French the Sambas, Bossa Novas, Chachas, Merengue, Danzon, Tangos, Milongas and Boleros of legendary Latin singer Tino Rossi. Havana meets Paris - imagine the sensuality and passion of this melding of two romantic worlds!

This recording is co-produced and engineered by 11 time Grammy® Award winner Rafa Sardina. Rhythm Of The Heart features the great virtuoso Ramon Stagnaro on acoustic guitar (Andrea Bocelli, Enrique Iglesias), Rebeca Mauleon 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 (Rubalcaba, Chucho Valdez), Cuban timbalista Orestes Vilato (Celia Cruz , Ruben Blades), Jesus Diaz on congas (Tito Puente, Pete Escovedo). The mastering was done by Bob Lanzner (Michael Jackson, Bobby Caldwell).

The CD cover illustration is by award winning illustrator Martin French (Los Lobos, The Chronicle of Narnia). Included is an exquisite 20-page booklet with French, Spanish and English lyrics.


The making of Rhythm of the Heart

The making of “RHYTHM of the HEART”

(Ritmo del Corazon , Rythme du Coeur)

Havana meets Paris – imagine the sensuality and passion of this melding of two romantic worlds!

Knowing well that Cuban music traces it roots equally from Europe and Africa and 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 Rs 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 (the best outside of Havana) 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. From my heart to yours I give you “Rhythm of the Heart”.

Con Amor,




5.0 out of 5 stars Nice homage to classic Latin-flavored French chanson music, April 16, 2013
By DJ Joe Sixpack (...in Middle America) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rhythm Of The Heart (Audio CD)
Raquel Bitton
"Rhythm Of The Heart"
(RB Records, 2013)

A sweet, classy album by French-born chanteuse Raquel Bitton, who is best known for her stage show in tribute to Edith Piaf. On this album Bitton glides through a number of Latin American styles -- tangos, boleros, bossa nova and rumba -- with wonderful French-language tunes gleaned from the repertoire of Corsican crooner Tino Rossi, a French superstar who specialized in "Latin" flavored material in the 1930s and '40s. Bitton's versions are quite nice, and bring a subtle richness and immediacy to these songs that will delight fans of the era. Lush, emotive, full of melodrama and romance, this is exactly the way these songs should sound. Recommended! (DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue Guide To French Music)

Attended French jazz singer Raquel Bitton's show at Yoshis San Francisco, what a marvel it was! I call it "The Big Buena Vista Social Sound a la Raquel Bitton" Emmanuel Nado, Host of "Echoes of Africa" on Kalw.


"Raquel Bitton - Rhythm of the Heart"

Feel like a night at the theatre? Good! Put the tux, tie, plunging neckline slinky dress, high heels, top hat, and monocle back in the closet, pour a couple glasses of cabernet, turn the lights down, and sit back while putting Raquel Bitton's Rhythm of the Heart in the player, 'cause she just got off the road from a sold-out tour of her Raquel Bitton Sings Piaf—Her Story, Her Songs, from which a PBS docu-concert has been drawn, and now graces one and all with this tribute to the legendary Tino Rossi, who sold—good Lord, is this right?!?!—yep, over 600 million records, not to mention recording 1200 songs. Yow, goodbye Pink Floyd and Michael Jackson! When did the guy ever get a chance to sleep?

Mark S. Tucker, Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange


"A Magnificently Recorded Tribute to Tino Rossi"

Raquel Bitton has spent a large portion of her professional life recreating the art of Edith Piaf. Bitton has performed her hit show Raquel Bitton Sings Piaf -- Her Story, Her Songs three times at Carnegie Hall, and in music halls and theaters across North America. A PBS docuconcert film of the show, Piaf: Her Story, Her Songs, still continues to air on PBS stations. If you like Piaf (and who doesn’t?), you’ll enjoy Bitton’s new CD, Rhythm of the Heart, though it is devoted to the memory of a different singer, Tino Rossi (1907-1983).

Born in Corsica, France, Rossi started singing in his hometown of Ajaccio, but soon landed in Paris where he started recording for Columbia Records and began starring in French musical films. He is credited with hundreds of records and more than 25 films. At his death he was said to have sold more than 300 million records, the greatest number for any French singer. In his pre-World War II days, he created a social sensation as a singer with a “Latin lover” persona. His singing style included rolled r's that became the conversational style in Paris.

Raquel Bitton has picked a dozen Rossi winners after listening to over 500 songs. “I dressed them up as sambas, bossa novas, tangos, cha-chas, boleros, Haitian meringue and danzon.” She is backed by a fairly large orchestra, fronted by an Afro-Cuban band led by Carlitos del Puerto, Jr.

Bitton has that rolling-r bit down cold. Many singers would make it sound affected, but Bitton incorporates it as just another facet of her warm and elegant style. Most often it rolls off like a sexy purr, though occasionally has more bite. Bitton’s voice is warm and seductive and she has the full measure of Latin rhythms so that the undulating dances flow from her in a very natural manner.

All of the songs are sung in French but the package thoughtfully provides translations, printed in decent size type for a change and on heavy paper. The booklet created by them, along with all the credits, is pasted into the Digipak sleeve rather than being inserted, as is the norm.

All of the musicians in the large supporting band are world class. Rebeca Mauleón arranged percussion, plays piano and conducts; Ramon Stagnaro provides luscious guitar passages; all the horn players have a chance to shine. The music has been co-produced and engineered by Rafa Sardina, an 11-time Grammy® Award winner. Rhythm of the Heart might put him up to an even dozen. Everything is exactly right, every balance perfect. The overall sound is lush, warm, and seductive, as it must be for this literature, but there is absolutely no lack of detail.

I haven’t dwelt too much on the individual songs. I’d never heard them before and you probably haven’t either, but I tell you, after hearing them on this most-appealing CD, you’re going to be hard pressed to forget them. “Il pleut sur la route” (“It’s Raining on the Road”) really sticks in my mind. Thanks to YouTube you can also hear Rossi’s somewhat gentler original Columbia recording.

Be sure to listen to: Jorge (Coco) Trivisonno’s bandoneón solos in “Il est trop tard” (“It’s Too Late”) are positively scintillating and recorded with such presence that you can close your eyes and imagine him in your listening room.

Rad Bennett



Four Stars
Critical Jazz review of Rhythm of the Heart

Havana and Paris come together to form a special and incredibly unique sonic profile with some world music flavor added for texture with Raquel Bitton's latest release, Rhythm of The Heart.

Havana meets Paris? Not as odd as some may think given Cuban music traces its roots from Europe and Africa. Bitton is joined by a smoking hot Afro-Cuban band including members of the San Francisco Symphony and does her own riff (in French) on sambas, bossa novas, cha-chas, and tangos of the iconic Latin singer Tino Rossi.

A common misconception is that one may need to know a little French to fully appreciate a release that marries old Havana with a slightly more contemporary European flair. Nonsense.

Rhythm of The Heart succeeds thanks to the phrasing, timing and rich color pallet from which Raquel Bitton pulls and displays her solid vocal chops from. Another key to success is the intentional mix of rhythm and groove. Pulling the music roots from two different continents into one harmonious presentation is never easy but Bitton pulls it off with flair and an indescribable joy for a release that despite the rather large ensemble maintains an old world intimacy and charm that borders on the addictive.

There compositions here cover a wide range of emotions and pay fitting tribute to the great Tino Rossi who was a genuine movie heartthrob in his day. Often referred to as the Rudof Valentino of song. Combining jazz, Latin jazz, world and french music is never easy while similar artists have attempted to bring the gap between some of these genres the end result is normally stiff and lackluster by comparison.

Taste is of course subjective but for those that dig Latin jazz along with the influence of the Astor Piazzolla tangos this is the perfect marriage of genres by an incredibly well respected and critically acclaimed vocalist in Raquel Bitton.

Tracks: Il Pleut Sur La Route; Le Secret De Tes Caresses; Un Violon Dans La Nuit; Merci Pour Tes Fleurs; Pardonne Moi; Guitarra Mia; Bonjour Tristesse; Plus Je Vous Aime; Tango Melodie; J'Ai Garde Ta Photo Sur Mon Coeur; Il Est Trop Tard; Tout Bleu.

Personnel: Ramon Stagnaro: acoustic guitar; Rebeca Mauleon: piano; Carlos del Puerto Jr.: bass; Jimmy Branly: drums; Orestes Vilato: timbalist; Jesus Diaz: congas. 21 piece Orchestra from The San Francisco Symphony

If the cover art looks familiar thank Martin French (Los Lobos, The Chronicle of Narnia).



Midwest Record: Chicago

RAQUEL BITTON/Rhythm of the Heart: Long the armchair traveler's best friend, Bitton, still singing in French, puts her Piaf thing aside to tackle the works of Tino Rossi, a Latin music superstar from the first part of the 20th century who's name probably draws blank stares today. Singing in French but doing it in a spiritual Havana, Bitton plays with Rossi's hits remaking them as tangos, sambas, bossas, cha-chas and whatever suits her fancy. Art chicks should take note, this is a classic example of the difference between artistic and art chick--pay attention if you want to be taken seriously. Certainly the kind of set where Rizzoli would have met Starbucks a decade back, class and hip meet here in a Gallic hug that'll have people think you really know your apples if they catch you listening to this. A very special world beat treat from a committed world beater that enjoys breaking new ground for us.



Heartfelt rhythms from Raquel Bitton

Bay Area residents should well know the name Raquel Bitton, for the diminutive vocalist with the big voice has played hither, thither and yon for several decades, including a few Napa Valley gigs.

While listeners associate her most often with the ballads of France — especially those made famous by the Little Sparrow, Edith Piaf — Bitton knows a thing or three about tango, bolero, danzon and merengue, too.

For her latest recording project, Bitton has turned to the repertoire of “a genuine movie heartthrob” most of us have never heard of. This “Rudolf Valentino of song” named Tino Rossi was born in Corsica in 1907 and had a successful 50-year career, recording some 1,200 songs and appearing in more than two dozen films. His romantic ballads had women swooning and his art songs by Jules Massenet and numerous others helped draw sold-out audiences wherever he performed. He is the only French singer to have sold more than 300 million records.

“Women wanted to be with him and men simply wanted to be him,” notes Bitton in the liner notes of her new recording. “His rolling, undulating Rs became the standard for Parisian speech; everyone spoke and sang like Tino Rossi.” The Bay Area singer waded through some 500 of the songs Rossi recorded to find a dozen for her new CD, “Rhythm of the Heart” (City Hall Records).

Bitton will release the new CD in mid-April and to celebrate she’ll present the material, complete with large orchestra, at Yoshi’s San Francisco on Friday, April 19.

The CD features a 21-piece orchestra with musicians from stellar Afro-Cuban ensembles and the San Francisco Symphony, led by acclaimed Bay Area pianist Rebeca Mauleon. From the beloved bolero of Osvaldo Farres, “Plus Je Vous Aime,” to the pulsating bandoneon of “Tango Melodie,” from the classic love song, “Tout Bleu,” of French composer Andre Hornez to the ultimate payback song, “Il Est Trop Tard,” “Rhythm of the Heart” is a gem.

All sung in French, the songs are as seductive as they are stirring.


Recommended New Music,San Jose Mercury News
Raquel Bitton - "Rhythm of the Heart"

You might recognize Bitton from her PBS special, "Piaf: Her Story, Her Songs." This time, it's Havana meets Paris as Bitton sings sumptuously, in French, songs made famous by Latin legend Tino Rossi. Backed by a large Afro-Cuban band, she brings her own distinctive flair to the Samba, Bossa Nova, Cha-cha, Merengue, Danzon, Tango, Milonga and Bolero rhythms. The album was produced by 11-time Grammy® winner Rafa Sardina. Originally from Morocco, now based in the Bay Area, Bitton plays a CD release date Yoshi's San Francisco on April 19. - raquelbitton.com

Paul Freeman

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