Omar Sosa and NDR Bigband

Ceremony

(Ota)

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CUBAN pianist Omar Sosa’s output is as varied as it is prodigious. In a dozen or so visits to Scotland Sosa has never featured in the same line-up twice, and he never disappoints. Following last spring’s Transparent Water duo album with Senegalese singer and kora master Seckou Keita comes something quite different and yet celebrating essentially the same roots.

Sosa’s music is a rich and deeply felt amalgam of Afro-Cuban spiritualism, the dancing grooves of his compatriots and forebears such as Irakere, the jazz inquisitiveness of Thelonious Monk and his own research and adventurousness, and it translates as beautifully to the big band genre as it does to more intimate settings.

Cellist Jaques Morelenbaum has arranged these 10 Sosa pieces and let them variously sing effusively, sway engagingly and roar in celebration. Morelenbaum is also one of the superb soloists alongside Sosa, with his gorgeously considered touch and vivid imagination, the often searing alto saxophonist Fiete Felsch and guitarist Roland Cabezas.

With Sosa also featuring on marimba and percussion, and the NDR team bolstered by a percussion trio and bass guitarist and Sosa regular Childo Tomas, Ceremony could just as easily have been recorded in Havana as Hamburg.

Rob Adams