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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

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Omar Sosa
Ayaguna
Ota/Harmonia Mundi

By MARIE ELSIE ST. LÉGER

Published April 19, 2006

On 2001’s Sentir, his Grammy-nominated album, the pianist and composer Omar Sosa wound his way through the traditional sounds of his native Cuba, as well as North Africa and South America, to create a web tightly enveloped around the listener. This time out Sosa engages in percussive conversations with his longtime onstage collaborator, fellow Cuban and percussionist Gustavo Ovalles. In this live performance, captured in July 2002 at Yokohama (Japan’s Motion Blue club), the pair weaves intricate melodic and rhythmic patterns with astounding ease. Whether exploring turn-of-the-century danzón (a fusion of European and traditional Cuban dances, contradanza and the danza) on “Toridanzón,” or paying homage to an ancient deity on “Africa Madre Viva,” Sosa and Ovalles speak as one, turning up the heat on “Eleggua In The Road,” offering a somber reverie on “Black Reflection,” wrestling with emotional turmoil on “My Three Notes.” While honoring their culture and religion, Sosa and Ovalles are never glib, inviting their audience to embark on the nearly wordless journey through an ever-intricate musical web. It’s quite a feat, challenging and engaging the listener. Omar Sosa succeeds in doing both once again.

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