If anything, Omar Sosa has always been a spiritual artist. Connected for generations with the practice of Santería, Sosa was surrounded by the worship together with a communion of saints, but in a truly Afro-centric manner. The particularly molten staccato of the batá drums has held sway in the melodic rhythms of his music. In fact, some of his finest earlier work has burst forth as out of a spiritual vortex shuffling with forthright swagger, churning in the thick, nervous rigors of Afro-Cuban song and worship. Though the majestic African rhythms have always characterized his music, Sosa also has a remarkable gift for lyricism and his music dances with diaphanous melodious grace melded into the grunting rhythms and warbling spiritual cries. But while this earthmoving spiritualism has driven Sosa’s compositions for years a side of him has remained almost bashfully hidden for a length of time. And this aspect of his music is now in flood in Calma, a sensational suite of loosely connected songs that seem to flow not from his fingers, but from somewhere deep within his soul.
Sosa’s mysticism seems to burn like a fire on a high mountain in what appears to be a continuous meditation towards attaining a Holy Grail. The dictates of his soul drive the languid flow of the music. The shuffle and jerk and tremulous shivers of the body are replaced by the rhythm of the heart, and this is a direct consequence of the consummation of rhythm with the nirvana of ecstatic melody. Even when, deep into the suite, the soft and sultry voices of what appear to be children make an intrusive entry into the meandering melodies and this is accompanied by the gentle rocking of gourds and shells, and the tapping of a batá, it is quiet, almost like a heated scalpel making swift cuts into burning flesh revealing some kind of ancient blood sacrifice. Mostly, however, it is the spontaneity of Sosa’s quiet mystical approach that provides the overriding joy of this album.
Throughout, Sosa is also singularly true to his rare gift of musicality and his flawless technique that the notes sing, pianissimo. This result is an unbroken line of music that dances both vertically as well as horizontally into a miraculous holistic piece that echoes with devotion to Sosa’s communion of saints, but in a new manner that fuses the intensity of Santería into a perfect melody of prayerful musical meditation. The power of “Esperanza” wrapping its arms in “Reposo” from “Sunrise” to “Sunset” as Sosa’s immaculate suite proceeds via all the things that he loves on earth as he proceeds on a solemn quest to attain the everlasting peace on the other side of life through music.
3. Walking Together
8. Looking Within
9. Dance of Reflection
10. Autumn Flowers
Omar Sosa: piano.
Omar Sosa on the web: www.omarsosa.com/
Review written by: Raul da Gama