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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Omar Sosa

By Nils Jacobson
Published April 16, 2008

Afreecanos
Ota Records

To these ears, Cuban pianist-turned-world traveler Omar Sosa came of age musically around the turn of the millennium, when he made a series of brilliant group recordings that fused some of the deepest roots of the New World African diaspora, including jazz. It was only logical that he would turn his attention directly toward the source, which he does here. Sosa works with over 20 international collaborators in various combinations to craft 11 tone poems, each celebrating aspects of “the same Mother,” with all but one built upon a vocal foundation (in Yoruba, Wolof, Candomblé or Mandingo). In one sense, these are straight-ahead songs, but the colorful percussion, rich instrumental layering, and Sosa’s own keyboard and mallet musings make them much more than that. One might say that Omar Sosa has grown soft, but the open sentimentality manifested here still reflects the crisp, direct, intuitive connections he long ago mastered.