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Mulatos Squared

C. Michael Bailey By

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Omar Sosa is the most original Afro-Cuban jazz artist since Juan Tizol. He has produced an impressive string of recordings that include Prietos, Sentir, Pictures of Soul, Ayaguna, Alertoric EFX: Live Solo Concert - Radio Bremen and Ballads. Sosa's most commercially and critically successful recording to date is Mulatos, which was nominated for a Grammy Award and was a Publisher's Pick and appeared on Best of 2004 lists at All About Jazz. Mulatos has now been released remixed by leading American and European mix masters. The result is what Omar Sosa calls "another view with the same spirit.

Omar Sosa
Mulatos
Ota Records
2004

Mulatos is audio Latin impressionism. It is as if Claude Debussy and Chano Pozo produced a musical love child and that child is expressed melodically. The result is a light, atmospheric vehicle for Omar Sosa's airy compositions and other-worldly piano playing. He employs an entire range of piano techniques from plucking the wires to percussive playing a la Cecil Taylor/Don Pullen. Sosa uses simple Latin time figures and deceptively simple melody lines, weaving one into the other. His piano playing is most expressive on "La Llamada, a Latin Thelonious Monk pushing the consonance/dissonance envelope. "Iyawo displays Sosa at his most melodic and harmonically grounded, floating above his rhythm section.

While the mood of the recording is light, the instrumentation remains dense. There is very little open space on the recording and Sosa proves very thoughtful in how he fills the sonic space. A big plus to the disc is the relatively few types of instruments used. The clarinet is effectively the only reed showing up on the recording and on "Ternura, "Nuevo Manto and "Dos Caminos the harsh mistress is wielded by the exquisite Paquito D'Rivera. Pinning the entire project down are the requisite percussion instruments, appearing on this recording in legions. Mulatos is compellingly beautiful and honors its composer in being so.

Omar Sosa
Mulatos Remix
Ota Records
2006

Critically anointed as a modern classic, Mulatos is ripe for reinterpretation. Mulatos Remix is the result of this fact. Through sampling, remixing, and looping, the warm Caribbean breeze that is the original recording is transformed into a tactile funk celebration. Noted mix masters Doctor L, DJ Spinna, Marque Gilmore, Steve Arguelles, and DJ basephunk spin their urban magic with Sosa's vaporous compositions. In general, the transformation of all remixes results in more pronounced percussion and added voices. The overall result is very hypnotic music suitable for close listening or as a background music. Mulatos Remix's vide recalls UB40's wonderfully stoned Signing Off.

The depth of remixing runs the gambit. Basephunk's "La Tra bears a light touch highlighting Sosa's electric piano. Other mixes, such as the Plush (Steve Arguelles) remix of "El Tresero, the remixing is very refined. Arguelles pulls the voice tracks to the front and accentuates an acoustic bass to the point one can hear the strings buzz on the fret board. Sosa's sound density is decreased on some remixes where the mixers expand the space in the recordings, such as in Doctor L's remix of "Not Your Frequency (dig that acoustic bass!). Because it is dramatically different, Mulatos Remix makes a perfect companion to the original recording, illustrating perfectly that remixing is a legitimate performance form that will continue to develop.


Tracks and Personnel

Mulatos

Tracks: Ternura; Nuevo Manto; La Tra; Reposo; La Llamada; Dos Caminos; Iyawo; L3zero; El Consenso.

Personnel: Omar Sosa: piano, Fender Rhodes, harmonium, marimba, vibraphone, tubular bells, all percussion, samples, vocal; Dhafer Youssef: oud; Renaud Pion: clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet; Dieter Ilg: acoustic bass; Philippe Foch: tabla, bowl; Steve Arguelles: drums, scratches; Aziz Arradi, guembri, qarqabas, vocal; Paquito D'Rivera: clarinet on 1,2,6.

Mulatos Remix

Tracks: La Tra - (Basephunk mix); L3 Zero - (Doctor L Reworks remix); El Tresero - (Plush Vocal mix); El Son - (DJ Spinna remix); La Tra'lectric; Not Your Frequency - (remix); Paralelo - (Plush Vocal mix); Rest, Wait, Call (Interlude); Nuevo Flow; Iyawo' N 'Bass - (The Love3Zero mix).

Personnel: Omar Sosa: piano, Fender Rhodes, harmonium, marimba, vibraphone, tubular bells, all percussion, samples, vocal; Dhafer Youssef: oud; Renaud Pion: clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet; Dieter Ilg: acoustic bass; Philippe Foch: tabla, bowl; Steve Arguelles: drums, scratches; Aziz Arradi, guembri, qarqabas, vocal; Paquito D'Rivera: clarinet on 1,2,6; Remixers: Doctor L; DJ Spinna; Marque Gilmore; Steve Arg; DJ basephunk.

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