Omar Sosa: ilé
2014: Ota Records
Omar Sosa on Grand Piano, Fender Rhodes, Motif ES8, Vocals
Ernesto Simpson on Drums, Vocals, Kalimba
Childo Tomas on Electric Bass, Kalimba, Vocals
Leandro Saint-Hill on Alto and Soprano Saxophones,
Flute, Clarinet, Vocals
Marvin Sewell on Guitars
Jose “El Salao” Martin, Koyaki, Zogaros, Lazaro Ross - on Vocals
Pedro Martinez on Percussion
Yosvany Terry on Soprano Saxophone, Chekere
Carlos “El Vikingo” Ronda on Palmas, Cajón
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 4, 2015
All compositions (except track #6 “La Tarde”, Sindo Garay) written and arranged by Omar Sosa.
This CD is an homage to Omar Sosa’s Cuban roots, with African rhythms inherent in the varied music and sound. The project is also a tribute to Mr. Sosa’s late mother, and two tracks present a differentiated composition in her honor, “A Love Lost”. Numerous guest artists were invited to join the recording project, organized by Mr. Sosa and Ernesto Simpson, Cuban percussionist. Afro-Cuban and Flamenco artists, among the guests, enhance the vocals and instrumental texture, especially when palmas and cajón can be heard. Mr. Sosa’s quartet, as well, brings kalimbas and vocals that transport the listener. Ocean waves and breezes seem to float through the undulating, expansive refrains.
#4 – Mentiras Enemigas (“Enemy Lies”) – This intriguing track brings, beyond, the quartet, Pedro Martinez on tropical percussion, José Martín on flamenco-styled vocals, Marvin Sewell on guitars, and Carlos Ronda on palmas. This Cuban regional music is enhanced with the cultural roots of Spain. Mr. Sosa, on vocals and keyboard, is a master of this genre, with natural, nuanced musicality in the composition, arrangement, and performance. In the quartet, Ernesto Simpson, Childo Tomas, and Leandro Saint-Hill bring in percussion, bass, and reeds.
#5 – Momento II – This was one of my favorite tracks, uncluttered and poignant. Yosvany Terry joins Mr. Sosa, who’s on grand piano, for a gorgeous soprano sax solo, accompanied by Mr. Terry’s chekere, which is a gourd-like instrument to shake. That exotic sound added to a very transporting listening experience. Mr. Simpson, Mr. Tomas, and Mr. Saint-Hill provided quiet backdrop. The atmospheric ambiance was eloquent.
#8 – Dame La Luz (“Give Me Light”) – This was another favorite track, now upbeat, danceable, and full of life. Guests were Mr. Sewell on guitars, Mr. Martinez on percussion, and Mr. Ronda on palmas. The featured artist, however, was Mr. Saint-Hill on flute, with Mr. Sosa on piano, and Mr. Simpson and Mr. Tomas on vocals and perhaps kalimbas (which resemble the stringed autoharp). The cover notes do not indicate which instruments the diverse quartet plays from track to track, but that is not needed, as the totality of tone is magnetic.
#10 – Sad Meeting – This track, with its “sad” title, is actually a tropical, buoyant piece, with only the quartet featured, for clarity and simplified melody. One hears the flute, percussion, vocals, piano, and, it appears, additional keyboard effects. This recording is one you could really enjoy anywhere, with its engaging Cuban, musical motifs. Mr. Sosa is to be commended in his spotlight on Cuba, in light of recent overtures to open the country to more travel.