Tom Rossi - Composer, Producer, Songwriter

Music Reviews

"Poon is a wild, sensuous ride pulsated by
Rossi's enticing drum-intensive score."

~ Backstage

Yoga Journal
Reviewing: Salma Har
by Stephanie Benson

African, South American, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean sounds unite in a celebration of rhythm, harmony, and tradition on Tom Rossi's debut, Salma Har. Influenced by everything from West African voodoo ceremonies and master percussive teachings in Ghana, to expeditions throughout Brazil, Cuba, and Turkey, Rossi skillfully uses a wide array of global instruments to showcase his absorption of international music.

Recorded in his Brooklyn basement studio, Rossi plays more than 20 instruments—including the kalimba, flutes, percussion, piano, and various guitars—while receiving help from specialists on the kora, bolon, and cello. The sounds oscillate between poignant wind tones, silky vocals, gentle raindrop rhythms, and addictive beats. Subtly invigorating, Salma Har opens like the dawning day with progressive hip-shaking tribal beats on "Oiseau," the first track, and slowly reaches peaceful twilight with the hypnotic closing tracks, "Resolutions" and "D Meditation."

"Tom Rossi's music creates the ideal atmosphere, African
and Indian drumming driving a Tom Waits-style carnival"

~ Village Voice

CD Baby
Reviewing: Salma Har
by Tamara Turner

Lavish textures of rhythmic, earth-rumbling traditional and popular African styles dive, swirl and somersault through classical and folk tones, encompassing rich piano, lulling mbira, light bass and a penetrating thread of kora. From songs that soothe with haunting calls to invigorating, celebratory pieces, this soft, supple African pop fusion, drawing from the music of Togo, and Ghana as well as tapping into Caribbean, Middle Eastern and South American colors, finds a heart and a home in a sanctuary of hope, joy, promise and beauty. This is music that feeds the senses well, where sound comes at you in walls, in giagantic waves that wash over and fill emptiness. With occasional hints of Peter Gabriel, Rossi brings a personal approach, with distinctive musical imagery, to a style that speaks to so many traditions.

"This is music for, as that Brooklyn poet Walt Whitman once put it,
'respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart.'
Listen closely; Salma Har contains multitudes."

~ Jeff Gordinier (Details, Esquire)

BREATHE Magazine
Reviewing: Salma Har

Tom Rossi: Drumming Home Peace
by Valerie Reiss

If Tom Rossi's latest album, Salma Har, sounds like the United Nations of instruments, then he is its Kofi Annan, deftly making introductions and navigating negotiations. African djembe meets Indian bamboo flute meets European cello. And somehow it all works to create something melodious yet rocking, trance-inducing yet head-bobbing. Though the music was created for yoga, its hip, soulful vibe makes it perfectly blareable.

A visit to Africa at age 21 swept Rossi, then a guitarist, into a world of percussive possibilities. While in Togo he attended voodoo ceremonies with round-the-clock drumming. "I went to sleep to the drums and woke up to them," he says. In the ancient vodun religion, music is used to celebrate, tell stories, channel deities, and heal, he says. "The vibration of the drums is their medicine."

Rossi, now 37, was so inspired by the communal, primal intimacy of this music that he moved to New York to play for classes at his uncle's dance studio, then eventually decided to merge "the organic African thing with the well-thought-out systematic Western stuff," training at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

There Rossi developed a blood clot. Though surgery healed him, he sensed that some sort of energetic blockage-an unconscious, self-destructive impulse-had caused the problem. This led him to the IM School of Healing Arts back in New York, a place he calls “human school.” During his fourth year there, a classmate asked Rossi to play for her lover, who was dying of cancer. The man was deeply affected by the experience; so was Rossi. Not long after, Rossi picked up the phone book and started calling hospices. These days he has regular gigs at three of them. He moves from room to room, strumming mellow tunes on two African instruments-the Kora, a 21-string harp, and the Kalimba, a thumb piano-lulling patients to sleep. “It creates this energy that’s very soft and penetratingly peaceful."

"Rossi brings a tapestry of cultural influences...
even throws hints of American songwriters like
Joseph Arthur and Paul Simon."

~ LA Yoga

Hittin' The Note
Reviewing: Salma Har

It’s impossible not to imagine exotic, lush textures wafting from Tom Rossi’s guitar as Rossi composes Salma Har in his Brooklyn basement, the notes floating across the room and hanging like the multi-colored tapestries from the urban walls. Rossi is, after all, as American as they come: born in Texas, raised in Massachusettes, educated in the Northwest. But what overshadows his country of origin are the well-woven influences he found in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and beyond. And it is those places that form the inspirational threads in his trans-continental fabric.

Each track on Salma Har seems to emerge from the ether, with polished, down-tempo ambiance and surreal percussion. The album title means "Yoga Music", and it aptly and amply induces an upbeat meditative state, the multi-part vocals spun without decipherable lyrics, their tone and hue coloring the canvas that Rossi primes with uncommon instruments and accessible hooks. More than an accomplished musician, Rossi’s role as a composer of enchantment is fortified by the spirited motion his music makes, as it spills into the air like a twisting, serpentine stream of smoke - aromatic, mysterious and ultimately comforting.

"Rossi brings a personal approach, with distinctive music imagery,
to a style that speaks to so many traditions."

~ Backroads Music

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