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  • Interview: Omar Sosa

    Mon, 21 Apr 2008 15:21:49

    Interview: Omar Sosa  - We get in tune with our spiritual ancestors, the power of connectivity and what it means to be "free"

    Uncompromisingly free in sound and spirit, Cuban-born jazz virtuoso Omar Sosa makes music liberated from the confines of tradition. Rather than striving to satisfy the rules of any particular genre, he is guided by a belief in powers beyond this world to direct his compositions towards righteous honesty. Jazz, Latin and African influences all blend together in a humanistic expression, as he emphasizes the similarities in each over their differences.

    Afreecanos is his latest album of globe-trotting fusion, and it finds him leading a band of accomplished musicians, from varied traditions, in his inclusive style. We recently spoke with Sosa about the record and his approach to making music. Along the way, he helped open our ears to the spirits that guide us, and spoke about translating their universal language.

    You got into music at a very young age. How did you know that music was going to be the path you followed?

    I don't really know. It was always with me as a kid. One of the first things I picked up was music. In my house, we always listened to music, especially on Sunday. Every Sunday, my father would put on Nat King Cole and all these kinds of music that, for me, were crazy at that time. When I actually heard traditional Cuban music, I felt really close to it. Then I said, "Daddy I want to figure out a way to do this professionally." So I went to the music school in my hometown, and after that I moved to the national school of art in Havana. Later, I went to a university for a couple of years, but I quit, because it was too rigid and boxy, for me. I wanted freedom, so I started to play around, and now, I do what I do. That's all.

    It was just meant to be.

    Yeah, it was pretty natural. I don't push anything. My father pushed me to go to a traditional academy originally. Like a lot of fathers, they try to push their kids in their direction. My Mother had nothing to do with art—well not professionally—but she loves to dance. My father loves to dance and drink, but nothing professional. Only at parties.

    Sometimes you can be a professional partier.

    You mix so many styles together—Afro-Cuban, classical and jazz. What is the song writing process like for you when you sit down and actually compose?

    Well, it is simple. When the spirits talk, the only thing you have to do is listen to what they say. When I say, "Spirits," I'm talking about our ancestors, our elders. For example, Thelonious Monk, he still speaks to people today—he's still fresh. Some people are still alive in a way, because their spirit is around. The only thing that we need to do is listen to them. Listen to what they left, what they gave to us and try to compile it into a composition. When I sit at the piano a lot of things come in like a flash. Sometimes I watch four or five ideas get away, but if I'm able to catch four, I'm a lucky man.

    I'd say. Do you think with all the distractions that people have around them today that it is harder for them to sit still and hear those ancestor's spirit?

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