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.
The Nest Collective has announced the second edition of UnampliFire. The new event, called UnampliFire #2 will take place at St Marks – Dalston in London on November 26th, 2016.
UnampliFire will present the artists with no amplification, no soundchecks, and no waiting around – just pure, unadulterated music. The lineup includes Seckou Keita, Martin Carthy, Green Gartside (of Scritti Politti), Cosmo Sheldrake, London Bulgarian Choir, Men Diamler, The Nightjar, Ríoghnach Connolly (The Breath, Afro Celt Soundsystem), Snufkin, Samantha Whates, Flats & Sharps, and Fran Foote (Stick in the Wheel).
The Most Beautiful Songs of the World is a selection of beautiful world music songs from various parts of the globe. “There’s more to a blue-jay than any other creature. He has got more moods, and more different kinds of feelings than other creature; and mind you, whatever a blue-jay feels, he can put into language. And no mere commonplace language, either, but rattling, out-and-out book-talk – and bristling with metaphor, too – just bristling! And as for command of language – why you never see a blue-jay get stuck for a word. No man ever did. They just boil out of him! And another thing: I’ve noticed a good deal, and there’s no bird, or cow, or anything that uses as good grammar as a blue-jay. You may say a cat uses good grammar. Well, a cat does – but you let a cat get excited, once; you let a cat get to pulling fur with another cat on a shed, nights, and you’ll hear grammar that will give you the lockjaw.
Ignorant people think it’s the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain’t so; it’s the sickening grammar they use. Now I’ve never heard a jay use bad grammar but very seldom; and when they do, they are as ashamed as a human; they shut right down and leave.” – Mark Twain, from “Jim Baker’s Blue Jay Yarn”
Twain had a sense that understanding and appreciation of song predates speech. World music listeners, enjoying songs with lyrics in languages they do not speak, are much like Twain listening to a blue jay, having to dig deep into their own sensitivities to find the rewards they know are there. Because it predates human speech, a portion of song appreciation resides beyond the human part of Mind, in the mammalian part. How, for example, does the song relate to the listener’s primal mating call? Concepts of Beauty are, after all, woven inextricably into our urge to propagate. A jazz performer might call this the “Go to the fourth and multiply” theory.
This introduces world music. An effective mating call from the dry Sahara would not be the same as one from less open, more humid environs, as different pitches travel better through different climes. The part of song that relates to ancient food gathering varies with the crops, as well, so a rhythm that implies an ability to stalk and call wild birds down to nets would not augur well for the singer’s ability to move down rice paddy rows in tandem with others to harvest that grain crop. These and similar cultural memories reside in each listener and form the foundation for his or her judgment of the beauty of every song heard.
No one will find all 28 songs on “The Most Beautiful Songs of World Music” double-disc to be beautiful. People are too individualistic for that. Most will, however, be wooed by most of them, and that is an impressive accomplishment for ARC’s artists and catalog. Perhaps intended as part as an anthology introduction to a number of artists from all over the globe, this release is also a two-hour philosophical debate between representatives of various cultures as to what comprises Beauty.
The artists featured include Clannad, Seckou Keita, Kate Rusby, Brian Kennedy, Capercailie, Ana Alcaide, The Red Army Choir, Marta Gómez, Arinushka and Linas Rimsa, Hanitra, Petru Guelfucci, Lenka Lichtenberg, Vusa Mkhaya, Ceumar, Lidojosoais & Ieva Akuratere, Khiyo, Gong Linna, Maria Ana Bobone, Klapa Cambi, The Kambarkan Folk ensemble, Tango Orkesteri Unto, Joji Hirota, Perunika Trio, Nataliya Romanskaya & Kirmash, Techung, Russian Folk ensemble “Balalaika”, Bomas of Kenya, and Divanhana.
The Most Beautiful Songs of the World is well worth owning.