Omar Sosa

Promise | Otá
By JON GARELICK  |  June 12, 2007
2.5 2.5 Stars
Skipping over the European-derived dance forms that have become the staple of Cuban jazz imports since Cubanismo and the Buena Vista Social Club, the Afro-Cuban pianist/composer Omar Sosa goes directly to the sources in Africa and mixes them with modern electronics. So what we get on his latest outing is more often Miles’d-up trancy electric Afropop than what you might think of as Afro-Cuban jazz. Instead of verse-chorus song forms or son-montuno dance numbers, there’s a lot of indigenous African percussion, vocals, and echo-laden effects. The result is often more ambient than substantive, but it’s very pretty indeed. Senegalese vocalist Mola Sylla sings in Wolof and plays mbira and the harp-like xalam, electric-bassist Childo Tomas sings in Mozambican Ronga, and Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu provides the Miles-like whispers, moans, and lyric flights. Sosa, meanwhile, shifts from piano to Fender Rhodes to vibes and electronics. By the end of the album, he’s even favored us with a cha-cha-cha. But it’s the ensemble ambiance of this CD — recorded in front of a live studio audience — that will make or break it for you.

Omar Sosa Afreecanos Trio | Regattabar, Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St, Cambridge | June 14 | 617.395.7757
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