Sentir (Otá Records)

Omar Sosa

Released March 12, 2002

Grammy Nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album 2003




Continuing the development his groundbreaking World-Jazz sound, Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa combines traditional vocals and rhythms from Cuba, Morocco and Venezuela with contemporary jazz harmonies and spoken word in an extraordinary new recording full of passion and spontaneity. Featured on the CD are Moroccan vocalist and multi-instrumentalist El Houssaine Kili, Cuban/Yoruba vocalist Martha Galarraga, and Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles.

As part of his ongoing exploration of the African roots of music in the Americas, Omar’s concept for Sentir involves each musician using his or her own folkloric expressions and finding a common musical vocabulary for communication and improvisation. Another part of Omar’s approach involves the use of color as the basis of musical expression and the commonality of these ‘spiritual zones’ or trance states within the African Diaspora. The result is a fresh and poignant sound – one that celebrates the strong affinity of traditional musical roots and religious ceremonies in these cultures. Omar brings together the guembri, a traditional musical instrument from the Gnawa culture of North Africa, with bata drums, and Afro-Venezuelan percussion instruments such as the quitipla and culo e’ puya. The guembri replaces the usual acoustic bass, and the darbukkah and tan-tan, both percussion instruments from Morocco, often replace the smaller bata drums. Several tracks feature the lyrics of Washington, DC-based spoken word artist Sub-Z. Also contributing to the project are San Francisco-based percussionist John Santos and a number of Moroccan musicians including Yassir Chadly, Bouchaib Abdelhadi, and Moulay M’Hamed Enneji Fakihan (Nass Marrakech).

Track Listing:

1. Opening for Elegguá (Omar Sosa) 2:15

2. Sucesion en Blanco (Omar Sosa) 5:46

3. Rojo Changó (Omar Sosa) 3:31

4. Manto Blanco (Omar Sosa) 3:31

5. Toridanzón (Omar Sosa) 4:25

6. Azul Yemayá (Omar Sosa) 6:31

7. Oda al Negro (Omar Sosa) 4:03

8. Sister in Yellow (Omar Sosa) 5:53

9. Cielo y Mar Azules (Omar Sosa) 2:56

10. Tres Notas en Amarillo (Omar Sosa) 5:28

11. Rojo y Negro (Omar Sosa) 5:37

12. Eggun (Omar Sosa) 3:51

13. Sentir (Omar Sosa) 3:55


Omar Sosa: piano, marimba, percussion, guiro, bell, backing vocals, claps, ashtray, mallets inside piano, Yoruba prayer

Gustavo Ovalles: bata drums, quitplas, culo e’puya, cumacos, tambor de parranda, maracas, guiro, bongos, claps, vocals, cajon de rumba

Martha Galarraga: vocals, clave

El Houssaine Kili: guembri, qarqabas, tan-tan, Gnawa vocals

“Shariff” Moulay M’Hamed Enneji Fakihan: guembri, darbukkah, mandolina, qarqabas, Gnawa vocals

John Santos: bata drums, djembe, clave, cata, backing vocals

Yassir Chadly: guembri, Gnawa vocals, claps

Bouchaib Abdelhadi: oud, claps, qarqabas, Moroccan violin, vocals, taarija;

“Sub-Z” Terence Nicholson: rap poetry, claps

Randy Rood: didgeridoo

Justo Soler: backing vocals

Recorded at Autie Studios, El Cerrito, CA; Emeryville Recording, Emeryville, CA; Ventilador Music, Barcelona, Spain

Producer: Omas Sosa

Engineer: Oscar Autie, Andreu Hernandez, Randy Rood

Mixing: Rodolfo Bohnwald, Andreu Hernandez, Omar Sosa, Jaume Sitjes

Mastering: Ken Lee

Photography: Olivier Auverlau, Jeff Braverman

Executive Producer: Scott Price


Cuban composer/pianist, Omar Sosa’s brand of world-jazz is prominently conveyed throughout this release – featuring, Moroccan vocalist, El Houssaine, Venezuelan percussionist, Gustavo Ovalles, and others. Sosa and co. also multitask while performing on indigenous percussion and stringed instruments emanating from Cuba, and North Africa amid conventional Western fare. Nevertheless, this is a true world music venture, augmented by Sosa’s delicately rendered chord progressions and jazzy right hand leads. The pianist’s musical concepts and methodologies include his associates’ soft vocals, Rap, and poetic narratives atop bustling rhythms and choral chants. And no matter how you view it, Sosa is a true merchant of joy via his flowing statements and warmly enacted arrangements. However, a few of these pieces suffer from being somewhat unwavering in scope and execution.

Sosa doesn’t present anything that could be deemed risqué or overtly novel on this outing, yet part of the magic lies within his heartfelt approach and jubilant spirit. Here, the artist propagates the heartbeat of the global community via a series of multifarious rhythmic structures and affable melodies – despite a few minor lulls in the program.

Glenn Astarita (All About Jazz)