“When you take jazz as a philosophy, you can put every single style of music inside that. And in that way, I’m a jazz musician creating something out of all these traditions together.”
– Omar Sosa
By nature, jazz tradition requires innovation – something Omar Sosa seems to have innately understood from a young age. Growing up in Cuba, his father often played Count Basie, Nat King Cole, and traditional Cuban folk records around the house. “It was the sacred folkloric music,” Omar says. “I listened to it and thought, ‘Maybe it would sound good to mix it all together – Count Basie with a lot of traditional percussion in one big majestic band.’”
Considered one of the most electrifying and unifying artists in world music today, pianist and composer Omar Sosa brings a joyful, spiritual, deeply curious and collaborative energy to his music. After formal education at the prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, he embarked on a peripatetic journey around the world – exploring and connecting musical roots. Incredibly diverse and prolific, he has recorded 32 albums, tours tirelessly, and has received numerous artistic commissions, fellowships and residencies culminating in a Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement Award for the development of Latin Jazz in the USA, as well as the Afro-Caribbean Jazz Album of the Year Award from the NYC Jazz Journalists Association.
In many ways, Omar’s album Es:sensual is the realization of his childhood dream. Partnering with legendary samba arranger Jaques Morelenbaum and Germany’s renowned NDR Bigband, he has created a lush, brassy and full-sounding celebration of Afro-Cuban and big band jazz. It’s ebullient and exotic, yet beautifully cohesive, swaying with lambent melodies and propulsive rhythms. Indeed, Omar’s percussion background shines through – as he says, he plays piano like “88 drums.” Underneath and throughout, the warm, dancing, positive vibe is unmistakably Omar Sosa. “We need to smile in this life,” he says. “Life is full of many hard and dark things. The more fun we have, the more clarity we are going to have to see things.” Today more than ever, Es:sensual is essential.