Pictures of Soul (OTA1012, release date: 1/2004)
A Pictures of Soul is an improvised music collaboration
between Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and Los Angeles-based
percussionist Adam Rudolph. These two creative musicians
have enjoyed each other’s work at a distance for
several years. Both share an appreciation of ritual
trance music – music that leads us into altered
states of consciousness. In April of 2002, when Sosa
and his Septet arrived in Los Angeles for a run at the
Jazz Bakery, it was possible for these kindred spirits
to meet and make music together. The result is Pictures
of Soul, a poignant aural journey into the transcendent
realms of the creative music process.Sosa
and Rudolph both experience their art as an interactive
spiritual voyage. Their approach in the studio called
simply for an openness to explore musical landscapes
together – without charts, without rehearsal.
In Pictures of Soul we find a wide range of expression,
from delicate introspection to fiery dance. Sosa plays
mostly acoustic piano, both on the keys and inside the
instrument. Rudolph is featured on an array of hand
drums, including djembe, tarija, dumbek and tabla.Sosa
has released ten recordings on the Otá label
since 1997, including 2002’s GRAMMY-nominated
Sentir. He performed recently with his Octet at the
opening of Carnegie Hall’s new Zankel Hall, about
which Alex Ross of The New Yorker remarked that Sosa
has “a ferocious flair for rhythm and a keen musical
wit”. Composer John Adams, who curated the opening
of Carnegie Hall’s new venue, commented that “Sosa
is a deeply creative musician with an extraordinary
harmonic sense. His piano playing is sui generis: It
has obvious roots in Cuban music, but he’s taken
his approach to the keyboard into completely new regions”.
And Don Heckman of The Los Angeles Times recently wrote
“Sosa’s vision of contemporary jazz reaches
across every imaginable boundary”. For more information,
please visit www.melodia.com.Mr.
Rudolph, a native of Chicago, is known as one of the
early innovators in what is now called “World
Music”. In 1977 he co-founded The Mandingo Griot
Society with Gambian musician Foday Musa Suso, one of
the first bands to combine African and American music.
In 1988, he recorded the first fusion of American and
Gnawa music with Moroccan sintir player and vocalist
Hassan Hakmoun and jazz trumpet great Don Cherry. In
the same year, Rudolph began his association with the
legendary Yusef Lateef, which continues to this day.
Hailed by Down Beat as “a percussion wizard”,
he currently leads his own ensemble, Go: Organic Orchestra.
For more information on Mr. Rudolph, please visit www.metarecords.com.
of improvised music as well as aficionados of all types
of intimate jazz settings will find Pictures of Soul
a rewarding listen. For more information, press kit,
or interviews, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Calling The Baby (0:29)
2. Una Mano (2:38)
3. Three Persons (1:14)
4. Crash De La Tierra (2:19)
5. Vuelvo Iyawo (5:17)
6. Danzón De Los Indios (3:50)
7. Escucho (5:06)
8. El Puente Conversando (5:52)
9. El Aliento (1:59)
10. Memory (5:26)
11. Paloma Herida (5:27)
12. Ofrenda (5:39)
13. El Campo De Arére (6:40)
14. La Otra Mano (3:44)
15. Crashing Waves (4:52)
16. Sueños De Infancia (2:59)
17. Nacimiento (4:52)
18. Otra Nana (3:35)
A New Life (OTA1011, release date: 9/2003)
A New Life , Omar Sosa's
third solo piano outing, is a heartfelt set of 16 improvisations
recorded at Hidden Barn Studio on the bluffs above Big
Sur, California overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The work
is dedicated to Omar's first child, Lonious Said, born
in July of 2002. The pieces of A New Life revolve
around the themes of childbirth and infancy, reflecting
Omar's experience as a new father. The mood is generally
relaxed and contemplative, in contrast to the largely
percussive style of Omar's ensemble playing. Omar's
first solo piano CD, Omar Omar (OTA1001) was
released in 1997, a lively, up-tempo set of improvisations,
while his second solo piano recording, Inside , released in 1999, features the quieter, more introspective
dimensions of Omar's musical sensibilities. A
New Life includes a bonus track entitled "Otra
Nana", recorded at Audio I by NPS Radio in Hilversum,
The Netherlands. The release of A New Life in
Canada comes in conjunction with Omar's recent Monument
National solo piano concert at the Montreal Jazz Festival
on July 2, 2003.
about the relationship between jazz and Cuban music
in a recent issue of the Los Angeles Times, Don Heckman
writes that "a new phase in the jazz and Cuban music
linkage is being unveiled by gifted pianist Omar Sosa.
Previous blendings of the two genres have tended to
emphasize the powerful energies of Afro-Cuban rhythms
in combination with the harmonic structures and improvisational
qualities of jazz. Sosa, however, has moved beyond the
parallelism of musical elements into a kind of natural,
organic expressiveness in which the musics' separate
identities are replaced by a seamless, creative mutuality.
Sosa has all the traits necessary to become one of the
important figures in jazz" (January 19, 2003).
release date: 3/2003)
In this new live Duo recording,
Omar celebrates his ongoing collaboration with Venezuelan
percussionist Gustavo Ovalles. These two kindred spirits
have been performing together since 1999, delighting
audiences throughout Europe, Japan and the United States
with their inspired musical chemistry and creativity.
Ayaguna was recorded at Motion Blue in Yokohama,
Japan, the newest of the Blue Note venues in that country,
in July 2002. The intimate duo setting allows Omar to
exult freely and passionately at the piano (Inside and out), moving with ease from intensive groove patterns
to delicate, balladic modes of expression.
The performance is enhanced by the live interaction
of the Motion Blue sound engineer, who provides an undulating
dimension of audio effects throughout the concert. While
the various sound effects interact with the piano performance,
Gustavo's percussion accompaniment provides a steady
base for the aural feast.
Gustavo is featured on a number of interesting Venezuelan
percussion instruments including quitiplas and culo'e
puya, as well as congas, bongo, maracas, guiro, snare
and cymbals. An extraordinary synergy and sensitivity
between the two musical voices is evident throughout
The title, Ayaguna , is taken from Ifa, the religious
practice of the Yoruba culture of West Africa, and its
New World offspring in Cuba (known as Santeria). Ayaguna is one of the paths of Obatala, the deity of peace and
wisdom, albeit a path of Obatala as a young and fierce
warrior, for whom revolution is a necessary part of
change and progress. Both Omar and Osvaldo are "sons"
of Obatala in their practice of Santeria, from which
they draw much inspiration.
Ayaguna includes an enhanced CD bonus track version
of the ballad Iyawo, featuring multi-media visual production
by London-based VJs Marc Silver and Nick Hillel, collectively
known as Yeast. The bonus track offers an engaging glimpse
into one of Omar's new directions for live performance,
in which the VJs sample, mix and project images onto
a large screen in synchronization with the music.
(OTA1009, release date:
Continuing the development
his groundbreaking World-Jazz sound, Cuban composer
and pianist Omar Sosa combines traditional vocals
and rhythms from Cuba, Morocco and Venezuela with
contemporary jazz harmonies and spoken word in
an extraordinary new recording full of passion
and spontaneity. Featured on the CD are Moroccan
vocalist and multi-instrumentalist El Houssaine
Kili, Cuban/Yoruba vocalist Martha Galarraga,
and Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles.
part of his ongoing exploration of the African
roots of music in the Americas, Omar's concept
for Sentir involves each musician using
his or her own folkloric expressions and finding
a common musical vocabulary for communication
and improvisation. Another part of Omar's approach
involves the use of color as the basis of musical
expression and the commonality of these 'spiritual
zones' or trance states within the African Diaspora.
The result is a fresh and poignant sound - one
that celebrates the strong affinity of traditional
musical roots and religious ceremonies in these
brings together the guembri, a traditional musical
instrument from the Gnawa culture of North Africa,
with bata drums, and Afro-Venezuelan percussion
instruments such as the quitipla and culo e' puya.
The guembri replaces the usual acoustic bass,
and the darbukkah and tan-tan, both percussion
instruments from Morocco, often replace the smaller
bata drums. Several tracks feature the lyrics
of Washington, DC-based spoken word artist Sub-Z.
Also contributing to the project are San Francisco-based
percussionist John Santos and a number of Moroccan
musicians including Yassir Chadly, Bouchaib Abdelhadi,
and Moulay M'Hamed Enneji Fakihan (Nass Marrakech).
Prietos (OTA1008, release date: 5/2001)
Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa's new large-ensemble recording Prietos continues to blaze new musical trails with its explosive mix of sounds from Cuba, Morocco, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and the United States. Voices and instruments from all of these cultures find joyful expression in this fresh, powerful, passionate CD.
Exploring Latin jazz beyond its traditional Cubop expressions, Omar Sosa juxtaposes folkloric melodies and rhythms with contemporary jazz harmonies. Yoruba (Cuba) and Gnawa (Morocco) chants are intertwined with hip-hop (U.S.) verses to create a modern, urban sound with a Latin jazz heart. Omar Sosa is a 21st century mix of Thelonious Monk back from the beyond and Eddie Palmieri in the full-blown and innocent spirit of his youth.
Prietos is World Music in its truest sense. Not "music to make you feel good", but strong, uncompromising sounds - yet always welcoming, and above all honest. Throughout this recording we hear Omar's genius as an arranger and his extraordinary inspiration at the piano.
Prieto is Spanish for black - really black. Omar uses Prietos as the title of this recording because he wants to put the music of many black cultures together on the same plate, giving expression to the fact that they are all children of the same Mother Africa.
On this recording you'll find tongues in Arabic, English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Yoruba, as well as instruments like the gimbri, oud and bendir from North Africa, djembe drums and balaphon from West Africa, and its sibling from Esmeraldas (Ecuador), the marimba.
release date: 3/2000)
"Modern Urban Music with
a Latin Jazz Heart "
"Omar Sosa will be ranked among the great
wizards of the keyboard, like Chick Corea."
-North Sea Jazz Festival, 1999
his CDs Free Roots (OTA1003) and Spirit of
the Roots (OTA1005), Omar Sosa's new large-ensemble
recording Bembon is an amazing mixture of Cuban,
jazz, spoken word, and world music elements. Omar's
is a World Jazz vision, gracefully weaving a tapestry
of musical threads from Afro-Ecuadorian, Afro-Cuban
and Afro-American traditions. His subtle fusion of rhythms,
harmonies, voices, and instruments is an exploration
of Latin jazz beyond its traditional Cubop expressions.
is a word commonly used in the Afro-cultures of the
Americas to describe a person with thick lips. With
courage and affection, Omar takes the term as the title
of his new CD to symbolize the common African roots
of black music and culture in the Americas. Throughout
this new recording we hear Omar's genius as an arranger
and his extraordinary inspiration at the piano.
was recorded and mixed in Quito, Ecuador during the
summer of 1999. It features musical themes from the
Esmeraldas region of Ecuador, the Lucumi culture of
Cuba, and from black American R&B and hip-hop forms.
For the first time, Omar uses a classical string quartet
to enhance the subtlety of his arrangements. Bembon
features contributions from Cuban percussion masters
Orestes Vilato and Pancho Quinto, and from Ecuador's
release date: 9/1999)
Cuban pianist Omar Sosa's new
CD, Inside , contains an intimate and engaging
set of solo piano improvisations. They are at times
pensive and introspective, at times romantic, playful
and delicate - always inventive and unpredictable.
"Omar Sosa is the cat to watch these days," writes noted
Bay Area music critic Chuy Varela. "His impressionistic
musings are creating an exciting buzz - they are an
imaginative aural feast". About Omar's first solo piano
CD, Varela wrote, "Omar Omar (OTA1001) is a stunning
album marked by unorthodox technique, offbeat rhythmic
energy, and harmonic boldness. Omar's musical imagination
is eclectic, mysterious, wryly humorous, and wonderfully
improvisational". Inside follows in a similar,
if slightly quieter, vein.
at the IAJE Convention in Los Angeles earlier this year
with percussionist John Santos, Omar's creativity caught
the attention of North Sea Jazz Festival producers (Holland),
where Omar performed in July of this year. The Festival
exclaimed that "Omar will be ranked among the great
wizards of the keyboard, such as Chick Corea and George
Duke". Omar returns to Europe in October with John Santos
for the European release of Inside , his second
solo piano recording.
follows the release earlier this year of Omar's extraordinary
large ensemble recording, Spirit of the Roots
(OTA1005). Part three of Omar's "Roots Trilogy" is scheduled
for release in January 2000. Part one of the Trilogy
is Omar's groundbreaking 1997 CD Free Roots (OTA1003).
Spirit of the Roots
(OTA1005, release date: 1/1999)
Omar Sosa's Spirit of the Roots
is a celebration of the hybrid African spirituality
that developed in Cuba, Ecuador, Brazil, and the United
States over the past several hundred years. It is a
complex blend of many voice of the African Diaspora
- in English, Spanish, and Yoruba - over a rhythmic
base containing many layers of drumming also drawn from
these cultures. Sosa absorbs from each culture that
touches him - the energy and storytelling of hip-hop,
the free-spirited experimentation of jazz, the heartfelt
power of an AfroEcudorian choir, and the celebration
of sensuality of Cuban popular music.
many other young Cuba musicians, Omar is also influenced
by the dexterity and energy of jazz-fusion, and his
conception of this music reflects his own meditative
and inquisitive nature. It leads him to explore the
styles of Bola de Nieve and Perruchin, and to consider
the ways Cuban musicians have incorporated elements
of their African cosmology into their music.
In seeking the roots of his own spirituality, Omar pays
tribute to pianists Thelonious Monk and Lili Martinez,
whose musical voices have influenced his own playing.
In Thelonious Monk, Omar hears a kindred soul, questioning
the dominant cultural and musical boundaries of the
creativity brings together this wealth of experience
and reflection in a beautifully crafted package blessed
with ache. Take off your shoes, close your eyes, and
allow the sounds to take you on a journey to the Spirit
of the Roots .
release date: 10/1998)
In their musical collaboration,
Omar and noted Bay Area percussionist and educator John
Santos allow the intuitive, the mysterious and the
spontaneous to claim free reign.
this live duo recording, Sosa and Santos do indeed capture
a very special chemistry. John plays a variety of rare
hand percussion instruments as well as congas and bata
is simply inspired.
(OTA1003, release date: 7/1997)
There is an invigorating new jazz
sound coming from Cuba, a music of great virtuosity
and innovation drawing on a wide range of musical tradition
- from Latin jazz to straight-ahead to European classical
music. Omar is one of the leading ambassadors of this
new Cuban sound.
impressionistic music encompasses cha-cha grooves and
Monkish phrases, Yoruba chants, hip-hop beats and rhapsodic
Roots was greeted with widespread acclaim, and was
selected by Paris music critic Remy Kopoul as #1 Album
of the Year in France (1997).
Omar Omar (OTA1001,
release date: 7/1997)
Omar's first solo piano recording
is a stunning album marked by unorthodox technique,
offbeat rhythmic energy and harmonic boldness. Omar's
musical imagination is eclectic, mysterious, wryly humerous,
and wonderfully improvisational.
Omar is a reflection of my inner landscape -- my
life experiences, my state of mind, my emotions. These
are transmitted sometimes through sudden inspiration,
other times through more traditional compositional techniques.
Musical themes surge from an inspiring force within,
each with its own imagery, harmony, and color -- each
searching its roots in Cuban music, of which I will
always be a part, body and soul. I use the rhythms and
forms of native Cuban music to create movement between
traditional and contemporary styles."
OMAR SOSA PALACIOS.
Copyright © Otá Records 2004