Livestream Barcelona, Spain
Material: When Omar Sosa strikes the keys, it’s as if he’s taking his listeners on a spiritual journey to his favorite places on a world map. Songs like “Tsiaro Tsara” are audio accounts of his travels to Africa and how the continent will always be the cornerstone of his catalog. But perhaps the best representation of his worldly influences is “Travieso.” The jazz elements and rap vocals are quite indicative of his multiple housing tenures in America, while the small timba section recreates a sound all too familiar in his native Cuba.
Musicianship: At his core, Sosa is an improvisational jazz pianist who typically presents his music as an instrumental—with the occasional feature from a guest vocalist. His Latin jazz themed shows are extravagant live collaborations between himself, various percussionists and an assortment of woodwind instrumentalists from across the globe. Projects like Aguas Trio with Yilian Cañizares are great examples of his collaborative efforts and his experimental tendencies as a live musician. But his most captivating live display to date might be the brand-new concert series that he performs all by his lonesome, a livestreaming concert experience called “Our Memories.”
Performance: The artist performed “Chapter 1” of it in February of 2021. The following chapter took place in March. It was a film-to-live music adaptation directed by Carlos Larrando, the Argentinian filmmaker, who built atmospheric visual affects around Sosa’s ambient music. When Sosa played the piano during his rendition of “The J.J. Village,” the meditative tune meshed quite well with the scenic images projected in the background. With a smile, the composer graciously switched back and forth from keyboard and synth pad during his presentation of eight brand-new songs.
Summary: On this night, the Afro-Cuban jazz artist did not perform music in the traditional verse-chorus structure. Instead, he mainly played soundscapes and calming sounds on his keyboard, while bits and pieces of tribal music played at a moderate volume in the background. Sosa did manage to infuse jazz rhythmic patterns in his final song, “The Black Carnival.” Its upbeat tempo was a nice way to end the concert. The images of people up on the projector in the background painted the picture of the festival atmosphere that undoubtedly inspired the composition. This show was a beautiful collision of two worlds, between a composer and a film director.