Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita’s album Transparent Water (Ota Records, 2017) is the Transglobal World Music Chart’s number one album for March 2017.
Transparent Water elegantly combines world music and jazz. The album features Omar Sosa (Cuba) on piano and Seckou Keita (Senegal) on kora along with traditional Chinese flute player Wu Tong, Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles, and Japanese koto player Mieko Miyazaki.
Music fans should settle in and enjoy the sumptuous ride that is Transparent Water. Co-creator Omar Sosa, the Cuban-born composer, bandleader and pianist, has such recordings as Eggun – The Afri-Lectric Experience, Jog, Ile and Calma under his belt, while Seckou Keita, the Senegalese kora master, has released albums like 22 Strings/Cordes, Afro-Mandinka Soul with his own Seckou Keita Quartet and Clychau Dibon. Joining forces under the Ota Records label, Transparent Water, set for release on February 24th, pairs Mr. Sosa’s Afro-Cuban and jazz sensibilities with the lush African traditions of Mr. Keita’s long musical legacy of his griot family.
Transparent Water is where world music meets world jazz, where tradition meets improvisation and where the lines of spiritual and earthy meet. The result is stunningly evocative.
With Mr. Sosa on piano, Fender Rhodes, sampling, microKorg and vocals and Mr. Keita firmly enticing listeners with his kora mastery, as well as talking drum, djembe, sabar and vocals, listeners are treated to the interplay between these two musicians and composers. But as luck would have it, Mr. Sosa and Mr. Keita turn the music on its ears with the additions of Chinese musician Wu Tong on sheng and bawu; Japanese koto master Mieko Miyazaki; Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles on bata drums, culo’puya, maracas, guataca, calabaza and clave; Korean geojungo player E’Joung-Ju; and Rajasthani nagadi player Mosin Khan Kawa.
Cuban rhythms, African melodies and Asian influences pile up, separate and mesh together in an expansive musical tapestry where it’s impossible to pull at one musical thread and undo the lot.
Like water, Transparent Water flows easy from the jazzy opening track “Dary” into the delicately piano and kora interplay of “In the Forest.” Lush track flows into lush track with goodies like the sheng laced “Black Dream,” the catchy African influenced “Mining-Nah” with Mr. Keita’s vocals warming up the track and mysteriously moody “Another Prayer.”
Listeners can’t help but be charmed by tracks like sassy offering “Fatiliku,” the dreamy musical landscape of “Oni Yalorde” with Mr. Tong on the bawu or the piano lines of “Zululand.” Transparent Water is one of those recordings that requires listeners stop and really listen and it’s best if you just go with its flow.
Mr. Sosa, Mr. Keita and company have conjured up a truly brilliant collaboration on Transparent Water. Mesmerizing, evocative and sophisticated, Transparent Water begs for a listen.
Omar Sosa and Paolo Fresu – Eros (Tuk Music/Ota Records, 2016)
Luxuriously elegant, seductive and exotically dreamy, the Tuk Music release Eros, born out of the collaborative efforts of Cuban musician and composer Omar Sosa and Italian musician and composer Paolo Fresu, is one of those exciting CDs where you just have no idea what’s coming around the next bend.
Dramatically packed with savory bits and bites of electronica, musical samplings and offbeat percussion, as well as the mastery of Mr. Sosa’s piano lines and Mr. Fresu’s trumpet and flugelhorn lines, Eros conjures up jazz, world music and dreamy musicscape and sometime all at once. Add in the vocals of Natacha Atlas and cello by Jaques Morelenbaum and Eros goes from extraordinary to extravagantly superb.
Opening with the sleek coolness of “Teardrop/Ya Habibi” with vocals by Ms. Atlas and trumpet lines by Mr. Fresu so good it will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Full of surprises, Eros never quite goes where you think it will so when “Sensuousness” combines a throat singer with cello, piano and trumpet in a track so utterly elegant it’s a little odd but it works in a big way.
Listeners get savvy coolness with tracks like “Zeus’ Desires” and “Brezza del Verano.” “My Soul, My Spirit” with vocals by Ms. Atlas against a backdrop of strings, electronica and birdsong is a simply stunning. Other goodies include “La Llamada,” the fantastical world conjured on “What Is Inside/Himeros” and exotically charged “Eros Mediterraneo.”
Eros is savage coolness. Forget what you know about the piano, trumpet or the way you think a track will progress. Ditch the map and just go with where the music will take you.