While Omar Sosa is often lauded for his high-energy, percussive piano style, he has also a profound sense of expression in the delicate, lyrical realm. In this collection of ballads, loosely defined, taken from four of his early recordings, we are treated to a listening experience of beautiful melody and rich harmony, full of romanticism and grace – all with a Latin jazz heart.
The compilation opens with Omar Sosa’s signature ballad, “Mis Tres Notas”, taken from his first ensemble recording, Free Roots (OTA1003) , and closes with the beautiful love song, “Shirma”, taken from the same album, and featuring the artistry of reedman Sheldon Brown on bass clarinet. Also from Free Roots , we find “Raya”, this time with Sheldon Brown on alto saxophone. From Omar Sosa’s second ensemble CD, Spirit Of The Roots (OTA1005) , are taken “Para Ella”, with Sheldon Brown on tenor saxophone, “Antes De Ir Va Esto”, featuring John Calloway on flute and Orestes Vilato on timbal, and “Tienes Un Solo”, featuring the divine Anastacia Newkirk on vocals. From the final recording of Omar Sosa’s Roots Trilogy, Bembón (OTA1007) , we find “Gracias Señor” and “Para Dos Parados”, both featuring poignant string arrangements, and the later featuring the exquisite vocal styling of María Márquez. Finally, from the groundbreaking CD, Prietos (OTA1008) , come two very delicate pieces, “Fragile”, again featuring María Márquez, and “Twice As Sad”, with Sheldon Brown on tenor saxophone. Ballads has a remarkable unity and organic quality, allowing the listener to let go into a magical, dream-like state. For those Omar Sosa fans who may have missed some of his early ensemble recordings and for those who have enjoyed the quieter, more introspective dimensions of this remarkable artist, Ballads is a must-have.
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