GRAMMY Nomination for “Sentir”; Afro-Symphonic World Premiere

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GRAMMY Nomination for “Sentir”; Afro-Symphonic World Premiere


Omar Sosa’s 2002 CD release, “Sentir”, received last week a GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. The recording combines traditional vocals and rhythms from Cuba, Venezuela and Morocco with contemporary jazz harmonies and spoken word. It brings together the guembri, a traditional stringed instrument from the Gnawa culture of North Africa, with bata drums, and several Afro-Venezuelan percussion instruments, including quitiplas and culo’e puya. Writing for “The BEAT” magazine, Robert Leaver comments that “Sentir is a truly groundbreaking recording that fuses Afro-Cuban and Moroccan folklore with jazz attitude and a rap overlay”. Also receiving nominations in the Best Latin Jazz Album category are recordings by Jane Bunnett, Caribbean Jazz Project, Duduka Da Fonseca, and John Santos & the Machete Ensemble. The 45th Annual GRAMMY winners will be announced in New York City on February 23, 2003.


Omar’s next CD release, “Ayaguna”, is due in stores in the U.S. on February 11, 2003. Recorded live in Japan at Motion Blue Yokohama with Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles, “Ayaguna” features Omar moving freely from intensive groove patterns to very delicate modes of expression. Mr. Ovalles provides a steady foundation for the aural feast with several Afro-Venezuelan percussion instruments, including quitiplas and culo’e puya, as well as congas, bongo, maracas, and guiro. “Ayaguna” includes an enhanced CD bonus track version of the ballad, “Iyawo”, with multi-media visual production by London-based VJs Marc Silver and Nick Hillel. The bonus track offers an engaging glimpse of 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. Omar Sosa and his VJ Ensemble will perform at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on April 18 and April 19, 2003.


Guest artists for the world premiere of Omar Sosa’s work for symphony orchestra, “From Our Mother”, at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California on Friday, January 24 include Lazaro Galarraga, Stephen Kent, Maria Marquez, Benigno Medina, Hafez Modirzadeh, Jackeline Rago, and Michael Spiro. The evening will begin at 7:05 PM with a pre-concert lecture by Omar Sosa, hosted by Jesse “Chuy” Varela, music director of Bay Area jazz station KCSM. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Paramount Box Office (no service charge), or For more information please call 510-444-0801.

One of the great Cuban percussion masters, Lazaro Galarraga is currently based in Los Angeles. He is a native of Havana, founding member of the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, and world-renowned teacher, performing artist, choreographer and writer of Afro-Cuban music. Mr. Galarraga is the musical director for Caribbean Crew and for the Percussion Artists Workshop’s (PAWS) Afro-Cuban Folklore Ensemble in Los Angeles.

Composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and master didjeridu player Stephen Kent was born in England and raised in both East Africa and the U.K. He has performed around the world with many prominent artists, including Airto Moreira, Zakir Hussain, and Herbie Hancock. Mr. Kent is also well-known in the Bay Area for his weekly world music show on KPFA.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, vocalist Maria Marquez is a graduate of Berklee College of Music (Boston) and has been living, recording and performing in the Bay Area for the past 18 years. Her first self-produced recording as a solo artist, “Eleven Love Stores” (Palm Pictures/2001), received national and international acclaim. Ms. Marquez’ next CD is due out later this year.

Benigno Medina is a master Afro-Venezuelan percussionist from Caracas, specializing in the ritual music of the Bata drums. He has been a member of the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Caracas since 1997, and is a founder of the Cedra Libre de Percusion in Caracas. Mr. Medina has recorded with Orlando Poleo, Alfredo Naranjo, and Adrenalina Caribe.

Saxophonist and composer Hafez Modirzadeh has recorded for dozens of jazz and world music releases over the past two decades, including Don Cherry, Peter Apfelbaum, Steve Lacy, and Zakir Hussein. Mr. Modirzadeh received a doctorate in music from Wesleyan University. He is the recipient of two NEA Jazz Fellowships, and is currently a professor of music at San Francisco State University.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Jackeline Rago is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer and educator specializing in the cuatro (the national string instrument of Venezuela) and Afro-Venezuelan percussion instruments. She is currently a CAC Artist in Residence, and musical director of The Venezuelan Music Project (a Venezuelan folk music ensemble). Ms. Rago has recorded and toured nationally for over fifteen years.

Michael Spiro is an internationally recognized percussionist, recording artist, and educator, known particularly for his work in the Latin music field. He has performed on hundreds of records, co-produced several instructional videos for Warner Bros. Publications, and produced seminal recordings for Orquesta Batachanga, Grupo Bata-Ketu, and Grupo Ilu-Ana.

Omar’s complete touring schedule can be found at

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