Ilé – Omar Sosa Quarteto AfroCubano
Release Date: March 10, 2015
“Globalization might be an abstract concept for many, but for pianist, composer and arranger Omar Sosa it’s a very real, personal matter. Born in Camagüey, Cuba, Sosa toured and recorded, early in his career, in places such as Angola, Congo, Ethiopia, Spain and Mexico. He has lived and worked in Quito, Ecuador, and San Francisco, California, and now has settled in Barcelona, Spain. Not surprisingly, his music is an exploration of African culture with a global perspective. In Sosa’s pan-African/pan-Latin approach, Orisha music, hip-hop, rumba, Ecuadorian chants, jazz, and Gnawa ritual music are just different expressions of the same culture. In his music, concepts, instruments, grooves and textures from disparate traditions overlap, blend and collide with deceptive ease. The results are both fresh and illuminating.”
Fernando Gonzalez, DOWN BEAT, May 2002
The word Ilé, from the Lucumi tradition of Cuba, means home, earth. And this is exactly what I want to express with this project: a return home, to my Cuban roots, to the sounds I heard as a child. This musical soundscape is a place where African influences have left exquisite, powerful, and knowing polyrhythmic marks. It’s a place where Cuban syncopation mixes with the sublime melodic and harmonic legacy of the West.
The music of this project is also a hybrid of various musical genres, all grounded in traditional Cuban rhythms. It is intended to show the path before us is one of unifying cultures and traditions, of breaking down barriers, and of living and sharing together the musical truths that surround us –African, Classical, Flamenco, Jazz, Latin and especially the Cuban tradition, which gave birth to many of the artists on this project. We study and respect each tradition as it forms a part of the creative journey we’re calling Ilé.
This project started many years ago, when Ernesto Simpson and I were studying at the Conservatory of Music in Camaguey, Cuba, the city of our birth. We used to listen to music together every Sunday in an old “toca disco” on Calle Garrido in Camaguey. And now the moment for us to share and create music together has finally arrived! The band includes another member from Camaguey, Leandro Saint-Hill on saxophone, clarinet and flute, together with Childo Tomas from Maputo, Mozambique on electric bass and kalimba. Together we seek to create a musical community that reflects the similarity and brotherhood of our musical traditions.
We have invited some guests to share the journey with us. They give the project a special musical dimension, and at the same time make it more profound in concept and philosophy. These artists include one of the great masters of Cuban music, Don Pancho Terry, on chekere, together with his son, Yosvany Terry, composer and saxophone wizard – both from Camaguey. The “Momento” interludes on the CD are improvised dialogues between Don Pancho, Yosvany and me, together with traditional Mozambican and world music samples. Also featured is the extraordinary AfroCuban percussionist, Pedrito Martinez, who brings traditional and contemporary Cuban sounds, full circle; the soulful spoken word artist, Kokayi; and the wonderful guitarist, Marvin Sewell, who shows us how readily the Afro-American musical culture (Hip-Hop, R&B, Blues, Jazz) can be fused with the AfroCuban connection.
Contributing a flamenco color to the project with duende is, the great Catalan singer, Jose “El Salao” Martin, together with percussionist Carlos “El Vikingo” Ronda with soulfulness and passion, they show us the subtle connection between the world of flamenco and the Cuban tradition. Also featured is my friend and fellow traveler, vocalist ZogaroS, from Italy, who adds a sublime touch on A Love Lost and D Vuelta.
Let us sing and move our bodies and reflect on the marvelous strength that emerges from the combining of cultures. And let us always find the way to enjoy the Light, Peace, Love and Harmony that comes through music. We hope you enjoy this project as much as we have enjoyed creating it.
I dedicate this project to my mother, Maria Gricelia Palacios Cadenas, who passed away just two days after we recorded the basic tracks. Rest in Peace, Mom. I feel you here by my side. And I trust you feel the energy of this music. May your light illuminate our path.
I also dedicate this project, as always, to our ancestors, our teachers and our elders. They have constructed the sonic architecture we listen to today. Thank you!
Omar Sosa, August 2014
A Love Lost, Momento I, 4U, Mentiras Enimigas, Momento II, D Vuelta, Old Afro A Baba, Dame La Luz, Momento III, Sad Meeting, Momento IV, La Tarde, Mi Conga,
A Love Reprise.
Omar Sosa, Childo Tomas, Ernesto Simpson, Leandro Saint-Hill, Pedrito Martinez, Don Pancho Terry, Yosvany Terry, El Vikingo, Zogaros, El Salao, Kokayi, Marvin Sewell, Lazaro Ross (vocal sample).