Alma is the new recording collaboration between six-time GRAMMY-nominated Cuban composer and pianist, Omar Sosa, and celebrated Italian trumpet and flugelhorn player, Paolo Fresu. The CD features guest cello contributions on four tracks by the masterful Brazilian conductor, arranger, producer, and cellist, Jaques Morelenbaum. Recorded in Udine, Italy in May 2011, and produced by Paolo Fresu and Omar Sosa for Mr. Fresu’s label imprint, Tuk Music, the compositions are written by Omar Sosa and Paolo Fresu, except for Under African Skies, a gentle version of the popular track from the Paul Simon CD, Graceland.
Mr. Sosa first invited Paolo Fresu to join his band as a guest for a concert at NDR studios in Hamburg in 2006, which resulted in the release of a live recording entitled Promise, in 2007. Omar and Paolo toured together in Italy in July 2009, which further deepened the special musical chemistry between the artists, and inspired them to plan a Duo recording. Both admirers of Jaques Morelenbaum’s artistry, Omar and Paolo invited him to participate in the project. And when Omar traveled to São Paulo for a concert in August 2011, a studio session was organized. Mr. Morelenbaum’s illustrious career includes work with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Caetano Veloso, Carlinhos Brown, Gilberto Gil, and Japanese pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto. Mr. Morelenbaum also did the arrangements for the recent Omar Sosa CD, Ceremony, with the NDR Bigband, which received a 2011 ECHO Jazz Award.
Paolo Fresu is a prolific artist, whose touring and recording history includes work with Carla Bley, Gerry Mulligan, Dave Holland, John Zorn and Ralph Towner, to mention just a very few. He also serves as artistic director for the Berchidda Festival (“Time In Jazz”) and the Nuoro Jazz Seminars. Mr. Fresu, who is from Sardinia, recently celebrated his 50th birthday by producing a series of 50 concerts in Sardinia on 50 consecutive days during the summer of 2011, featuring musicians he has collaborated with over the years. Omar Sosa joined him for a Duo performance in Cagliari on July 9th (concert number 26)!
The music on Alma, meaning ‘soul’ in Spanish, is a mix of jazz and Cuban and world music, melodic and soulful, including a fiery version of Omar’s composition Angustia. Mr. Morelenbaum is featured on both the title track, Alma, and the opening track, S’Inguldu, as well as Omar Sosa’s new composition, Crepuscolo, and the version of Paul Simon’s Under African Skies. Mr. Fresu’s flugelhorn work is rich and warm. Sosa’s stylings are fresh and inventive. And the playful musical connection between the two is evident throughout the recordings. We have a sense of these accomplished artists ‘dancing’ together, creating an expressive and poetic link between Cuba and the Mediterranean, offering us a wide range of subtle and engaging musical colors.