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Omar Sosa

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Cuban-born multi-instrumentalist Omar Sosa is a prolific, much lauded performer known for his genre-bending recordings fusing Latin jazz, African traditions, avant-garde improvisation, classical music, and more. Born on April 10, 1965 in Camaguey, Cuba, Sosa began studying music at age five while attending the Escuela Provincial de Musica in Camaguey. This led to his intense study of drums and percussion at two other schools during the late '70s and early '80s: Cuba's Escuela Nacional de Musica and Instituto Superior de Arte. Sosa then began to teach percussion to children before he created the group Tributo in 1986, for which he penned and oversaw the material for two of their albums, and toured. This was followed up by Sosa's work with Cuban vocalist Vicente Feliú (1988's Arteporética), the group XL Talla Extra with Cuban vocalist Xiomara Laugart, the jazz fusion outfit Entrenoz, the Afro-Ecuadorian band Koral y Esmeralda, and (as keyboardist) the band Koan Fussion. After settling in San Francisco in the mid-'90s, Sosa began issuing solo albums: the 1996 solo piano showcase Omar Omar, 1997's ensemble-based Free Roots, 1998's Inside, 1999's Spirit of the Roots and Bembon, and 2000's Prietos. In addition, Sosa produced recordings for Ricardo Williams, Leo Mass, and Vino y Miel. In 2002, Sosa issued the expansive Sentir, for which he earned a Latin Grammy Award nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album. Ayaguna appeared in 2003, followed a year later by the duet album Pictures of Soul with percussionist Adam Rudolph. He next joined Italian flügelhornist Paulo Fresu for 2007's Promise and debuted his Afreecanos ensemble with a self-titled album in 2008. Sosa then delivered a handful of equally well-received ethnic fusion albums, including 2009's Tales from the Earth with flutist Mark Weinstein, 2010's Ceremony with the NDR BigBand, and 2011's solo piano recording Calma. In 2012, Sosa paired again with flügelhornist Fresu for Alma. Two years later, he earned yet another Grammy Award nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album with Eggun: The Afri-Lectric Experience, a reimagining of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. He then showcased his Quarteto AfroCubano on 2015's Ilé and paired for a third time with Fresu for 2016's Eros. In 2017, Sosa collaborated with Senegalese kora player and drummer Seckou Keita on Transparent Water. ~ Greg Prato

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10 April 1965 in Camagüey, Cuba

Years Active:

'80s, '90s, '00s