Omar Sosa has been passionately interested in exploring African musical cultures and their connections with his Afro-Cuban roots since early in his career – subtly blending traditional and contemporary sounds on many of his recordings. He has forged collaborations with Gnawa musicians in Morocco, and with musicians from Senegal, Mozambique, Mali, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, and South Africa, et al. Highlights include his 2002 GRAMMY-nominated recording ‘Sentir’ featuring Moroccan singer and Guimbre player El Houssaine Kily, and his 2008 CD release ‘Afreecanos’, which served as a point of departure for his East Africa project. This new exquisite set of music featuring the 7-time GRAMMY-nominated Cuban composer and pianist Mr. Sosa showcases collaborations with 8 East African artists, fusing traditional sounds with jazz in a subtle, contemporary production. The folkloric music forming the basis of this project was recorded by Mr. Sosa while on tour in East Africa, including material from Madagascar (Rajery), Kenya (Olith Ratego), Sudan, Ethiopia (Seleshe Damessae), Burundi (Steven Sogo), Zambia and Mauritius (Menwar). With Mr. Sosa on pana and Paris-based producer, Steve Argüelles on drums and percussion and multi-instrumentalist Christophe ‘Disco’ Minck on double bass, synths and effects. These recordings will help expose some of the rich musical traditions of East Africa to new and wider audiences. Included in these recordings are some possibly unknown instruments that are the very keys to unlock the newness of sounds.
I had the honor of talking with Mr. Sosa about not only his personal journey on the creation of this magical album, but the journey of the music. We got into the times between the recording and the ability for me to be able to share and enrich others with the final product. We dive into the people, the cultures and the special instruments for the regions unfamiliar to many of us, but easily uniting those who open their ears and minds. I have to admit that Omar Sosa has long been one of those artists I have admired from a far, and I am so pleased we got a chance to talk abut this project…as it has taken me back while moving me forward. Hope you get that sense! An East African Journey will be released everywhere on March 5th. Check out more here.