EGGUN: The Afri-Lectric Experience began as an Omar Sosa commission from the Barcelona Jazz Festival in 2009. The assignment: to compose and produce a tribute performance to Miles Davis’ classic recording, Kind Of Blue, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. Inspired by various musical elements and motifs from Kind Of Blue, Omar wrote a suite of music honoring the spirit of freedom in Davis’ seminal work.
Featuring trumpet and two saxophones, Eggun provides a medium for musical elements from Africa to shape and develop the music. The resulting jazz textures are further enhanced by the subtle and expressive use of electronic elements. At the heart of the recording is the spirit of Mother Africa.
The featured horn players are Joo Kraus on trumpet (Germany), Leandro Saint-Hill on alto saxophone and flute (Cuba), and Peter Apfelbaum on tenor saxophone (U.S.A.). Omar’s longtime rhythm section of Marque Gilmore on drums (U.S.A.) and Childo Tomas on electric bass (Mozambique) create the foundation.
Special guests on the project include Lionel Loueke on guitars (Benin),Marvin Sewell on guitars (U.S.A.), Pedro Martinez on Afro-Cuban percussion (Cuba), John Santos on percussion (U.S.A.), and Gustavo Ovalles on Afro-Venezuelan percussion (Venezuela). The CD was recorded primarily in Brooklyn, NY. Of particular interest is a set of six Interludios interspersed among the primary tracks of the recording, inspired by melodic elements from the solos of Bill Evans.
Eggun, in the West African spiritual practice of Ifá and its various
expressions throughout the African Diaspora, are the spirits of those whohave gone before us, both in our immediate families and those who serve as our Spirit guides.
From the liner notes, by Joan Cararach, artistic director of theBarcelona Jazz Festival:
Harmony, peace, respect, freedom. That has been Omar Sosa’s
response to our proposal: to revisit Kind of Blue, by Miles Davis, from his own (quite exceptional) aesthetic assumptions. The year was 2009. The 41st Voll-Damm Barcelona International Jazz Festival had hired drummer Jimmy Cobb – the only surviving member of the group’s original line-up who created that record – and a tribute band committed to revive, in concert, the memory of that iconic jazz piece. But Kind of Blue, rather than a museum piece, is a mysterious record with an intimacy to be disclosed very slowly, generation after generation, beyond the commonplaces of history books.
That’s why we asked two artists who are familiar with our festival to revisit Kind of Blue from another perspective, following the artistic principles evoked by Bill Evans in his notes to the record signed by Davis: be yourself, be spontaneous, give all you have to give, everything you learned from those who came before and those you are sharing the road with. We selected Chano Domínguez, from Andalucía, who contributed Flamenco Sketches (Blue Note, 2012), and Cuban Omar Sosa, who did a powerful research of Miles Davis’ record.
Eggun (ancestors) is not a typical record, just as Sosa is not a typical pianist. The artist, at first reluctant, became obsessed probing into Kind of Blue to find nothing else but the paradoxes of a never-ending search: love and indifference; exile and emigration; being here and now with the lessons of those who illuminated us; restless energy and deliberate contemplation; the uncanny twists and turns of our souls and the shades of our lives; the constant strain between grief and joy, contradictory and supplementary at the same time.
Eggun essentially derives from the melodic cells of Kind of Blue’s solos and has the aim of honoring that record, which, let’s say it once more, is hardly known in spite of having been used and abused. Eggun is like all of Sosa’s works, an invitation to a journey plentiful with luxury, peace and sensuality (thanks, Baudelaire!). We have a welcome with Alejet – whitein Arabic – and El Alba. All the sounds of the African diaspora – where Moroccan bendir meets Dominican merengue and Puerto Rican plena: So All Freddie. The interludes, almost sacred invocations to the genius of Bill Evans. And a passionate desperation in the finale, as in records conceived the old way, like a narrative, followed by the final rest, grace in a religious sense, like an overflowing energy which at the end of the journey becomes pure togetherness.
Kindness, in short.
Joan Anton Cararach is the Artistic Director of the Barcelona Voll-Damm International Jazz Festival. In 2009 he commissioned ‘Eggun’ to Omar Sosa to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue’.s.