May 2008

Omar Sosa - Afreecanos
Otá Records OTA1019
Format: CD
Released: 2008

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Cuban musician Omar Sosa is more than a talented jazz pianist. He is also a marimba, balafon, calebasse, percussion, and guiro player, as well as a vocalist, composer and arranger; but above all this he is an ethno-musicologist whose aim is to examine various musical styles and trace their elements to a common African root.

Afreecanos, Sosa’s latest studio recording, culls musicians from Cuba, Brazil, the Caribbean, Africa, and France, translating their talented contributions into a cohesive, progressive display of his visionary theory. Santería, Orisha, and Candomblé deities are addressed and ancestors are called upon frequently throughout the album, revealing a close connection, for both Sosa and his fellow contributors, between music and spirit. Graca Onasile provides ethereal lead vocals on "The Light in the Sky," an homage to all the mothers of the world, while the closing track, "Why Angá?," is dedicated to the late, great conga player Miguel Angá Diaz, Sosa’s longtime friend and co-collaborator.

Time and space disappear, oceans dissolve, and Pangaea appears plausible within the tracks on this disc. At once free-form jazz and structured rhythm, tribal and urban, ancient and modern, Sosa’s Afreecanos unveils a type of world music that hints at a collective source.