Arts, Culture & Media

Global Hit - Omar Sosa

Our Global Hit today asks a philosophical question: what is freedom? Musicians, artists, hey, all of us, want to be free. But as The World's Marco Werman explains, you can't always get what you want.
Cuban pianist Omar Sosa has an idea of what freedom is. Now that he's just put out an album titled "Afreecanos," he's had to explain the concept to many journalists.

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�The name of the record is Afreecano, A F R E E. It's freedom, but inside of that freedom is a little organization, because it's 20, 21, or 22 musicians. This is more the concept of the record, freedom with a little bit organization.�

And since this is Omar Sosa's record, he's the organizer, the bandleader, so the musicians have to take his lead.

Not VERY free, perhaps. But they get room to stretch. This is Omar Sosa's show after all, and his record. Since he left Cuba at the age of 28, Omar Sosa has tucked into many different styles of music.

Jazz in Cuba carried over into his time in Ecuador. When Sosa moved to San Francisco in 1995, he moved over to Latin jazz.
In the time since, Omar Sosa has delved into big band, north African rhythms, and rap. Today, Sosa resides in Barcelona, and says his music, no matter what style it takes, is an expression of his roots in Cuba.

That's Omar Sosa breaking into a gentle piano solo over an unexpected West African rhythm. But then again, nothing is ever expected in Omar Sosa's music. Generically, he calls his music free jazz.

Yes, he places qualifications on his definition of freedom in music. But he says there's a benefit for the twenty some-odd musicians in his current ensemble. They can improvise to their hearts desire, and Sosa says that means no two performances are ever the same.

�We get beautiful reaction of the people because for us, every concert is the first and the last. Because the music that we do is make in the moment. And it is what it is for the people, and it is what it is for us.�

Sometimes Sosa's ensemble performs a piece, and there's so much improvisation, it's as if the players have discovered a new composition.

Omar Sosa has managed to coax a unique sound out of the multi-national players in the Afreecanos ensemble.

It could be at home in a jazz club...

...or a clearing in the West African bush...

...or the backroads of rural Cuba.

For The World, I'm Marco Werman.

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