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Omar Sosa – Eggun: The Afri-Lectric Experience

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Omar Sosa - Eggun - The Afri-lectric Experience

Omar Sosa is an extraordinary musician embodying both the magical virtuosity of musicianship and its soulful roots all in one. Actually one could not exist without the other. In Mr. Sosa, they have taken such deep rootedness that his music is naturally of the Spirit and therefore an outpouring of the soul. How do you create homage to one of the most iconic albums ever to grace the literature of jazz? An album completely improvised and set as if it were in the future, but looking ever so gracefully at the past; for Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue was just that album. It was the emotional tribute to impressionism couched in the language of jazz that made that album far ahead of its time and timeless just the same. According to the genius of the Cuban pianist and musician Omar Sosa you set the tribute in the future, looking back at impressions of Kind of Blue, accentuate the Afro-centricity of the album, add deeply felt elements of electrification, almost set in the spectral presence of Miles Davis himself—this by adding with ghostly softness, a muted trumpet—and glue it all in the near perfect rhythm of acoustic and electronic percussion, merely hinting at themes form that classic album to which homage is being made.

Omar Sosa is an extraordinary musician embodying both the magical virtuosity of musicianship and its soulful roots all in one. Actually one could not exist without the other. In Mr. Sosa, they have taken such deep rootedness that his music is naturally of the Spirit and therefore an outpouring of the soul. In Eggun the music embodies as much the Godly nature of music as it does the artfulness of the expedition. It is because of this aspect of Mr. Sosa’s music that his projects have epic connotations. Thus to pay tribute to Miles Davis’ legendary album is to create music as if making it in a parallel universe. There are broad hints that the music which is heard is of that album; for instance the opening track suggests “Blue in Green” but only a suggestion as the percussion and piano and other winds lifts the music out of that suggested theme into that Afri-Lectric realm that Mr. Sosa has created for his homage.

By the middle third of the album, the music pulls away completely from that which it is built upon. The mighty creativity of Omar Sosa and his ensemble is now on song. The pianist has drawn his players into a vortex where he is at the centre of a churning energy. Notes are viscous in nature These notes hang like ripe and heavy fruit on magical trees; the charts that they play from and the musicians dally with them as is they were lovers caressing the curves of the body of each fourth, sixth and eighth note. The music prompts the musicians to indulge it would seem, in an interminable dance, egged on by the primordial Afro-centric percussion. The musicians are entranced; rolled up in the hypnotic swagger of the music. Spinning in the slow drag of a double-helix, which molecule seems to suggest both the futuristic nature of the music as well as the magical and mystical unity of the musicians with their musical endeavour.

All this results in a brilliant unity between the charts that are glued together by the mystical “Interludio(s) I – VI” that enjoin the seamless progression of the charts on the album. Mr. Sosa has woven, here, what seems to be a bespoke quilt, with many magical parts. The swatch, for instance, of “Alternativo Sketches” is couched in Moorish tonal colours splattered with the Afro-centricity from which it is begat and this is almost surreal. By the middle third of the album, the heat and intensity of the music begins to build. The Afro nature of the album overrides the blues and begins to embody the spirituality that propels the music of Omar Sosa. As this character emerges so also does the ghostly spirit of Eggun replace the spectral imagery of Miles Davis and Mr. Sosa and his remarkable musicians finally come into their own on this altogether mesmerising album.

Tracks: Alejet; El Alba; Interludio I; Alternativo Sketches; Interludio II; Madre Mia; Interludio III; So All Freddie; Interludio IV; Rumba Connection; Interludio V; Angustiado; Angustiado Reprise; Interludio VI; Calling Eggun.

Personnel: Omar Sosa: piano, Fender Rhodes, electronics; samples; Marque Gilmore: acousti-lectric drums; effects programming, drum loop production; Childo Tomas: electric bass, kalimba, vocals; Joo Kraus: trumpet, flugelhorn, electronic effects. Leandro Saint-Hill: alto saxophone, clarinet, flute; Peter Apfelbaum: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass saxophone, melodica, caxixi; Lionel Loueke: electro-acoustic guitar, vocals; Marvin Sewell: guitars; Pedro Martinez: percussion; John Santos: clave, chekere, waterphone, panderetas, tambora, guiro, quijada, Gustavo Ovalles: percussion.

Website: http://omarsosa.com
Label: Otá Records
Release date: February 2013

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

Listening to the music of Siempre Más Allá, it certainly seems that the young French pianist, Adrien Brandeis has strengthened the belief that he is a proverbial citizen of the Afro-Caribbean universe. To be clear Mr Brandeis still loves all music and swings as hard as any pianist who loves Black American Music – that is, music that you can sing and dance to. But also continues to be beguiled by the rolling thunder of Afro-Caribbean music. The wild call of the rhythms and the joie de vivre of the questing melodies and harmonies not only appeal to his ear, but also speak to him in the hidden parts of his heart.

By his own admission Siempre Más Allá took root during three tours to Mexico undertaken under the aegis of the Fédération des Alliances Françaises du Mexique. The virtually all-Afro-Cuban repertoire of the album radiates charm at every turn. These disarmingly natural and eloquent performances bring out the music’s inherent drama and penchant for tumbao with a deft touch while indulging Brandeis’ lyrical instincts to the full. Meticulously balanced, the four quartet pieces, the trio and duo pieces feel as if they are chamber works. Brandeis’ astonishingly insightful playing is musically captivating and technically blemishless. Each phrase rings so completely true that one can’t imagine the music played any other way.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

The album features Mr Brandeis and a group of very accomplished musicians. These include the celebrated Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot [on two tracks] and his son Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Mexican drummer José Loria Triay make up the wall of percussion. The Brasilian bassist Giliard Lopes brings his distinctive veritas to the whole rhythm section. The big surprise here is, perhaps, the presence of the great Cuban Horacio “El Negro” Hernández sitting in the drum chair on La buena vibra.

Siempre Más Allá is an affirmation of Brandeis’ enduring love and natural affinity for Latin music. Not surprisingly the music seems to echo the famous Latin American phrase: “¡Que rico bailo yo!” [which, in English, exclaims: “How well I dance!”]. This is no hyperbole as the music – in its pulses and rhythms show as Brandeis traverses the rhythmic topography of the Caribbean and Latin America. Along the way Brandeis plunged into the world of changüí, the chacarera, Brasilian gaucho music and the ancient melodic thunder of bàtá drums.

From the get-go listeners will find themselves immersed in quite another world of rippling percussive grooves. The track Ek Bakam, for instance, conjures the intricate architecture; the line and flow of an epic Mayan civilisation located in the Yucatan. Narratives from the Latin world abound – often paying homage to famous traditional musicians. Pancho’s Power is one such chart inspired by the vivid world of the legendary trio Los Panchos. Brandeis gives his percussion section a lot of space when he puts the spotlight on them on Tierra de Oportunidades – a wistful memory of the pianist’s three tours to Mexico, which is also incidentally the popular provincial slogan of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. On Huachi-Huachi Brandeis digs deep into the epicurean delights of the only Latin country in North America with this song in praise of a kind of gourmet Mexican fish: the huachinango.

Brandeis then celebrates his association with percussion colourist Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. with the extraordinary music of Vizcaíno Blues, a piece unique with its exploratory chromaticisms and elegant sonorities that beautifully capture the eloquence of the percussionist in whose praise the music is written. Mindful of the fact that Vizcaíno is Cuban but makes his home in Mexico, Brandeis shapes the rhythmic and harmonic palette of the piece accordingly. On La Buena Vibra Brandeis delivers astonishing pianistic fireworks in the piece’s melodic and harmonic lines, played at a frenetic pace, to mirror the style of its dedicatee, Michel Camilo. The pianist demonstrates an authentic home-grown grasp of Cuban music as he reimages Voy a Apagar la Luz, by the legendary and late-singer Armando Manzanero, here adapted as a wistful solo piano work. Meanwhile on the dizzying ride of Humpty Dumpty the pianist pays homage to another idol: Chick Corea, by revisiting the sparkling composition of the recently-deceased piano maestro.

It is hard not to be mesmerised by this spirited and finely nuanced music artfully crafted in an album by Adrien Brandeis, a pianist who is about to take the world by storm with a recording that is going to be one of the finest by any musician located outside the Latin American sub-continent.

Deo gratis…

Tracks – 1: Huachi Huachi; 2: Alegría; 3: Pancho’s Power; 4: Ek balam; 5: Un peu d’espoir; 6: Vizcaíno’s Blues; 7: Tierra de oportunidades; 8: Humpty Dumpty; 9: La buena vibra; 10: Voy a apagar la luz

Musicians – Adrien Brandeis: piano; Giliard Lopes: contrabass; José Loria Triay: drums; Roberto Vizcaíno Jr: congas and bàtá drums. Featuring Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot: percussion [1, 6]; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández: drums [9]

Released – 2022
Label – Mantodea Music Productions
Runtime – 58:25

YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)

YouTube Audio – Adrien Brandeis – Vizcaíno’s Blues

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