How to be true to a music tradition and be part of the world at large? To be a modern artist (and consequently a traveler), without dismissing your roots? Omar Sosa searches out new sounds for a music that is simultaneously his own, and part of an Afro-Cuban culture. Mulatos is a fitting description for the kind of approach Omar is adopting – a mix of Cuban music that dances with rhythmic inspirations of Indian tabla, jazz drums, and studio mixing. Listening to the voices of the Arabic lute, the oud, a fore runner of the Cuban tres, and European clarinet melodies reminding him of Paquito D’Rivera and the repertoire of the great Cuban masters, Omar Sosa’s unique way of imagining how this can fit together and making the leap to realize the recording of it, is what makes him stand out as a very modern musician – an inventive and courageous artist.The album Mulatos features the highly individual talents of Dhafer Youssef (oud), Steve Argüelles (drums, electronics), Dieter Ilg (double bass), Philippe Foch (tabla), and Renaud Pion (clarinets). With the exception of Omar Sosa, the relation to Cuban music for these musicians is somewhat removed, though respectful and engaging. Omar’s extraordinary abilities as a composer, pianist, marimba percussionist (new here to many of his followers) and his authoritative leadership threads this together beautifully to create a major development for a Cuban jazz artist.Joining the project as special guest on clarinet for three compositions, someone whose artistry Omar has admired for many years, is Paquito D’Rivera (tracks 1, 2, 6).
Producer Steve Argüelles remarks, “It’s an album that is tightly constructed, like movie editing in the sense that the clarity of musical ideas are presented to maximum effect, be it a simple melody, a curious rhythm, or an electronic touch here and there. It remains rich, too, in the way that a favorite record is what you keep returning to, an important objective of ours. It tells a story about Omar’s relation to jazz, Afro-Cuban rhythms and spirituality, the piano, and a freely expressive mind”.