Omar Sosa Afri-Lectric Experience, 11-16-2013

“Eggun” - A Tapestry of Miles Davis & Bill Evans

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As part of its Then and Now: Jazz Cubano series, Montgomery County Community College's Lively Arts Series hosted the multi- Grammy nominated Omar Sosa and Afri-Lectric Experience. Sosa wrote a suite of music honoring Miles Davis’ and Bill Evan’s influential work entitled “Eggun”, which means ancestors in the African Yoruba spiritual or religious system.

Influenced by Afro-Cuban rhythms and traditions on modern jazz, this multicultural band featured Omar Sosa on piano, Fender Rhodes electronics and vocals; Joo Kraus on trumpet, flugelhorn, and vocals; Leandro Saint-Hill on alto saxophone, clarinet, and flute; Peter Prfelbaum on saxophones, and percussion. Childo Tomas on electric bass, kalimba, and vocals; and Marque Gilmore on acousti-lectric drums.

When Sosa walked onstage, magisterially dressed from head-to-toe in white garb, he carried a candle in one hand and a red scarf in the other. He symbolically placed both on a small table next to the piano then quietly spoke what appeared to have been a prayer. The audience respectively remained quiet. Then, as the room remained absolutely still, Sosa was seated before his piano, a chant could be hear as he began tapping out notes, then reached inside his piano gently brushing the strings with his hand. Gradually, the band came together on stage taking their places as if they were about to embark on a spiritual journey. Apfelbaum made a fascinating entrance from the back of the theater playing an intense alto saxophone and shaking large bells in syncopation with Sosa’s piano, Tomas’ bass, and Gilmore’s drums.

Sosa used his piano and Fender Rhodes to the fullest, as he produced spirited rhythms. He chanted, and blended in electronic adding more excitement and intensity to the performance. The band hammered out intense rhythms and emphasized Cuban roots with the surging dance rhythms. Every musician was a percussionist. They delivered more than two hours of music with intensity, joy, passion and a sense of purpose. Soso even engaged the audience in clapping out the clave rhythms. The suite included "Calling Eggun", " Alejet"," Rumba Connection", Alternativo, "Sketches","Interludio", "So All Freddie", "El Alba".

Sosa shared that this performance was the last of a 13 city tour, ironically ending in Philadelphia where he performed in 2011. For the encore, Sosa and Gilmore performed "Angustiado",
a beautiful piano and drum duet with Gilmore magically turning the drums into the sounds on the bongo and congas.

Sosa’s mission was accomplished. He took the audience on a journey through classic Davis’ and Evan’s music, shaped by Afro-Cuban grooves with the right touch by each musicians that all came together magically!

Stay tuned for my reviews as the series continues in December with Ninety Miles, a project in which jazz luminaries Stefon Harris, David Sanchez, and Christian Scott collaborate with Cuban musicians. For more information visit http://www.mc3.edu/arts/lively-arts.

More photos from the performance are in Ben Johnson's photo gallery by clicking here Ben Johnson Jazz Photos

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Karen Brundage-Johnson, PhD.