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Omar Sosa is a fusion artist in the best sense of the word. The virtuosic pianist mixes his Cuban roots with tastes of bebop, free jazz, even hip-hop and electronica, into a strikingly fresh and spicy modern stew that's much more than the sum of its ingredients. Sosa's new duo album with Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles was recorded before a live audience in Japan. Much of the energetic set sounds freely improvised, with Sosa moving from delicate, unabashedly romantic melodies to wild blasts of percussive noise in a manner that recalls the best of Keith Jarrett, though without the grunts. There's an underlying passion and spirituality to Sosa's playing that shines through at all times; plus he's got plenty of chops.
Ovalles, playing a variety of Venezuelan percussion instruments, as well as congas, maracas, guiro, snare and cymbals, interacts seamlessly and unobtrusively with Sosa. The two share a devotion to creative explorations rooted in Afro-Cuban rhythms, but wide open to a world of other influences. This is “Latin jazz” for the 21st century.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.