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Mark Weinstein/Omar Sosa: Tales From The Earth

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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Tales from the Earth by flutist, Mark Weinstein and pianist/vibraphonist, Omar Sosa, is one of the most extraordinary musical expeditions in a long time. The need for a subtext is not necessary; the extraordinary depth and ethereal beauty of the music would suffice. Nevertheless, once that subtext becomes evident, then the music touches parts of the body that much music might not. There is really no beginning and no end; this musical continuum needs only be entered with eyes wide shut and ears open; listening with the heart, soul, and every pore of the being is essential.

Perhaps it is the result of a childhood epiphany, which Weinstein recalled years later. Like epic music that is worshipful and healing, profoundly hypnotic as an interminable dance, it simply skips and rushes, cartwheels and catapults. The notes and phrases are alive and breathe as they entwine into each other like gilded braid. One strain, an idea, and then the voice of another world of music unfolding—almost like an ocean tumbling in harness. Suddenly drums and kalimbas sing and, with a rumble and thud, quaking of the earth begins. Sadness flows as one of the darkest moments of human history is relived; then, not joy, but resignation—and peace. Such primeval beauty in melody, harmonic and utterly exquisite polyrhythms, slicing through voices that meander in more melodic counterpoint.

Weinstein probably imagined something like this all his life, however it is pure chance that brought the flutist together with guitarist extraordinaire, Jean-Paul Bourelly and piano wizard Sosa. The occasion was the Black Atlantic/Congo Square series that Bourelly was organizing in Berlin in 2004. For Weinstein, the opportunity to play with these musicians, as well as bassist Yola Wesolowska and balaphon master Aly Keita, was the lure. Then the chilling subtext comes into play—the venue for the recording was the same building that was once the Ministry of Information during the Nazi era. For Weinstein the project now must have been one by Divine design and the music reflects just that; none of the music was written. The music appears to have been dictated by a Divine muse and attendant spirits. Nothing else can explain the mesmerizing set that simply flows from track to track.

The heavenly suite opens with a brilliant "Sunrise"—dawn aglow and alive with kalimba and brass percussion. The stage for the exorcism of pain is set by contrapuntal voices led by Aho Luc Nicaise, and the musical healing begins. In this 14-part suite, unwritten yet unfolding with inspired beauty through each of its sections as it tracks the journey of the group—in a tale reminiscent of the ancient Legend of Gilgamesh—the musical expedition makes its "Forest Journey" and "River Crossing." Then "Praise" and the "Spirit Messenger," who helps them through the "Celebration" of lives lived and pain left behind. Santeria and catharsis for Mark Weinstein and the whole Human Diaspora as the extraordinary improvised musical experience closes appropriately with "Gratitude."

Track Listing: Sunrise; Invocation; Walking Song; Tea Break; Forest Journey; River Crossing; Children at Play; Men's Talk; Flirtation; Praise; Spirit Messenger; Celebration; Elders Speak; Gratitude.

Personnel: Mark Weinstein: concert alto and bass flutes; Omar Sosa: vibraphone, marimba, piano, percussion; Aly Keita: balafon; Jean Paul Bourelly: guitar; Stanislou Michalak: bass; Marque Gilmore: drums; Aho Luc Nicaise: lead vocals, percussion; Mathias Agbokou: vocals, percussion.

Title: Tales From The Earth | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Ota Records

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