Back in 2004, when Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa released his masterwork, Mulatos, I described him as the otic equivalent of the Very Large Array, and as the years have progressed, his ears have only gotten bigger. They suck in electronic and acoustic sounds from North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Arabia, and Asia, which he weaves into organic sonic tapestries on the warp of Afro-Cuban–inflected jazz, often in collaboration with artists from around the world.
This week he brings his Quarteto AfroCubano—his musical home base, if you will, featuring Cuban saxophonist Leandro Saint-Hill, Mozambican electric bassist Childo Tomas, and Cuban drummer Raul Pineda—to the Outpost. I had the opportunity to interview him a couple of weeks ago. His positive energy is infectious, both on the phone and at the piano. He spoke with great animation and frequent laughter on topics ranging from his musical mission to his latest recording (the sublime Transparent Water, reviewed here) to the profound influence of Thelonious Monk.
Our edited conversation, along with details about the upcoming concert, follows. Continue reading →
Seckou Keita and Omar Sosa. Photo by Thomas Kruesselmann.
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 →
Omar Sosa Quarteto AfroCubano, Ilé (Otá Records)
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 →