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Album Review

Pianist Omar Sosa and his band fuse divergent musical influences on the CD Prietos. Sounds from Morocco, Ecuador, Venezuela, Ivory Coast, Brazil, the United States, and Burkina Faso coalesce with musical sensibilities from Sosa's homeland of Cuba. Especially striking on Prietos is the intertwining of hip-hop verse with traditional sounding Yoruban lyrics and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Though the contrast between the urban U.S. art form and the time-honored Cuban tradition may appear to be bit incongruous, Sosa and his crew of talented musicians make it flow on such tunes as "Takes a Second." A bevy of instruments — including Moroccan qarqabas and bendirs, Venezuelan tambor redondos and quitiplas, and Brazilian berimbaus — add layers of ear-catching textures to the standard Latin big-band sound. Prietos, which means "dark" in Spanish, is a coherent CD that combines music from Africa and the Africa Diaspora without coming across as contrived or forced. It's a testament to the African experience in the New World, and a product of Sosa's creative approach to music making.


Born: 10 April 1965 in Camagüey, Cuba

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Multi-instrumentalist Omar Sosa was born on April 10, 1965, in Camaguey, Cuba. At the age of five, Sosa began studying music at the Escuela Provincial de Musica in Camaguey, which led to his intense study of drums and percussion at two other schools during the late '70s/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 Sosa penned and oversaw the material for two of their...
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