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Omar Sosa: Senses

Dan Bilawsky By

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Pianist Omar Sosa seems to have a split personality: He's the extroverted dazzler who exudes vivacity and leads the charge, but he's also the introverted-and-contemplative pianist who muses and meditates with fingers on keys. Much of his work allows for both aspects of his artistry to shine; Senses does not. This one is all about the thoughtful and sensitive Sosa baring his soul.

Senses is essentially a (by)product of the pianist's time spent at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. While Sosa was there, serving as an artist-in-residence and composing a score for dancer/choreographer Nora Chipaumire's Miriam, he was given full access to EMPAC's recording studio and Yamaha CFIII concert grand piano. He spent hours behind that instrument and his explorations there proved to be cathartic; Senses says that and more.

This isn't the first time that Sosa has gone solo on record, but it's the most stark example of his piano work to date. Those accustomed to Sosa-as-sonic-mystic may be surprised by the nakedness of this music. Electronic fringe doesn't accumulate on the borders of these pieces and Sosa doesn't aim to conjure the spirits. This is just a portrait of a pianist sorting out life. Most of the material dwells in the middle ground; nothing's fast or too slow, overly sunny or dreadfully drab, or strong or meak. Sosa does explore complex emotions ("Dark Tango In The Morning"), sad-but-hopeful sounds ("Sun Shower" and "Two Sides Of Autumn") and somber spaces, but he's never driven to extremes.

In many ways these pieces feel connected to one another, as if they were part of a suite, and the album sounds best when taken that way. Following Sosa's emotional journey is touching, draining and rewarding all at once. He invites the listener to join in his search for answers that may or may not exist.

Track Listing: Sun Shower; Peaceful Shadow; Looking Both Ways; 3.25; Despacio; Humility; La Luna De Mi Hija; Shadow Of Clouds; Lament; Dark Tango In THe Morning; Two Sides Of Autumn; Olorun; Holy Mary; At Night; Light In The Sky; Pensamientos.

Personnel: Omar Sosa: piano.

Title: Senses | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Ota Records

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