Hypnotically beautiful and profoundly peaceful, Transparent Water (Otá Records), the new release from Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita, invites you to step out of the hurly-burly and submerge yourself in its sacred space for spiritual refreshment. Continue reading
I can’t hardly believe it’s been a month, dear reader, since we last met. In the interim, I traveled back east to visit my mom and then up to New York to hang with friends old and new. While in the city, I trekked out to Brooklyn on the F train for a concert at iBeam, a musician’s cooperative in Gowanus. The program featured three piano duos—Carol Liebowitz with saxophonist Nick Lyons, Kazzrie Jaxen with guitarist Adam Caine, and Virg Dzurinko with trumpeter Ryan Messina—and it was a night to remember. More than any other medium, music for me has the capacity to open doors deep in the psyche, and at iBeam that night, doors were swinging open left and right.
Which brings me to today’s subjects: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, and Omar Sosa. Each of them has keys to those doors, and each is the subject of a film worth seeing and supporting. Continue reading
Personal memory and ancestral memory are the hinges on which the window of Omar Sosa’s latest recording, Ilé (Otá Records), swings open. The word Ilé, which comes from the Lucumí tradition of Cuba, means home or earth, and the home that Sosa references is located where the personal and ancestral
intersect: Memories of a childhood in
Camagüey, Cuba, where two of his Quarteto AfroCubano bandmates, Ernesto Simpson (drums, vocal, kalimba) and Leandro Saint-Hill (alto and soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet, vocal) also grew up. Memories of his mother, who passed away just days after the recording was finished, after losing her own memory in a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. Memories of Africa, the homeland of the quartet’s other member, Childo Tomas (bass, kalimba, vocal), and Spain, where Sosa now resides—two lands whose
people and cultures flooded Cuba and mixed for centuries. Continue reading
The New Mexico Jazz Festival brings Cuban pianist/composer Omar Sosa to the Outpost on July 23 and 24 with his New AfroCuban Quartet, with Leandro Saint-Hill (saxophones, flute), Childo Tomas (bass), Ernesto Simpson (drums). For me, Sosa is one of the clearest and most profound voices on the planet—a shaman who is capable of connecting us with a deeper reality—and I was thrilled to be able to interview him.
At the end of May, I reached him by phone at his home in Barcelona at 10:00 p.m. his time and found him in the process of “dealing with my kids.” He issued rapid-fire instructions in Spanish off-line before turning his attention to our call.
The following conversation is very lightly edited. Sosa speaks excellent English—thankfully,
because my Spanish is rusty in the extreme—with a Cuban accent. I have tried to transcribe his words accurately, and I apologize for any errors that my untuned-to-Spanish ears might have introduced.
Sosa speaks with the same urgency, warmth, humor, generosity, and passion with which he plays the piano. Our easy-going half-hour chat touched on his musical approach and intentions, some personal history, his artistic philosophy, and a forthcoming album. Continue reading