176

Omar Sosa: Prietos

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Something of a high priest of African-American music, Cuban pianist Omar Sosa has a direct link to the spirits. He collects an international cadre of musicians to channel this higher energy into recorded form on Prietos. The result: a sprawling disc which explores idioms from West Africa, South America, Cuba, and the United States. While Sosa appears content to explore an idiom in its simplest and most direct form, he generally prefers to mix things up. You might hear a Yoruba prayer chant alongside a muted trumpet solo straight out of the jazz tradition, as on "Mother Africa." Or Brazillian poetry alongside an Ecuadoran chorus and a pulsing piano chorale, as on "Niño Divino." Most of the time, drummers and percussionists weave a dense fabric of interlaced rhythms on instruments indigenous to Africa as well as the New World.

Sosa deserves special credit for two accomplishments on Prietos.

First, he manages to integrate an incredibly broad variety of styles without sounding forced or pretentious. When the music of Morocco collides with the music of Cuba, Sosa finds enough in common to unite them into a seamless whole. The secret appears to be grounded respect for the African and post-African traditions. Prietos is more a recognition of common ground than any kind of post-modern pastiche. As Sosa puts it in the liner notes: "We are all children of the same Mother Africa."

Second, Sosa plays a vital role on the piano. His work at the keyboard displays literacy within the North American jazz tradition, as well as various musics of Latin America and Africa. In order to sew up the genres he brings together, Sosa utilizes a light touch and an impeccable sense of rhythm. During a couple of time-outs near the end of the disc, Sosa waxes lyrical—allowing one to appreciate the sweetness of simplicity.

It's hard to praise Prietos enough. The "Latin jazz" staple of North American music falls miles short of this epic fusion. Whether it be rap or djembe or marimba, every element of the African diaspora finds a home here. Omar Sosa, keeper of the flame, channels the energy from the human pulse to the throb of the drums to the fire of the gods. And back.


Track Listing: Eleggu

Personnel: Omar Sosa: piano, vocals, timbal; Elliot Kavee: drums; Geoff Brennan: acoustic bass; Gustavo Ovalles: Afro-Venezuelan and Afro-Cuban percussion; Will Power: rap vocals; Martha Galarraga: Yoruba vocals. Plus 25 guests.

Title: Prietos | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Ota Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Tempe Jetz" CD/LP/Track Review Tempe Jetz
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2017
Read "Crystal Moth" CD/LP/Track Review Crystal Moth
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "Tiptoe" CD/LP/Track Review Tiptoe
by Jerome Wilson
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "New Angle" CD/LP/Track Review New Angle
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 13, 2017
Read "Presence" CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 13, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.