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Omar Sosa: Calma: solo piano & …

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Omar Sosa, the Cuban-born pianist and composer whose music is steeped in jazz, the Caribbean rhythms and textures of his homeland and African music, often and most intriguingly works with large canvases: Take, for instance, last year’s sprawling, ambitious Ceremony, a collaboration with the NDR Big Band. Calma is by comparison a miniaturist work, a collection of pieces played unaccompanied aside from occasional ambient noises. It’s meditative and exploratory, and only occasionally hints at the themes and motifs heard in his large-ensemble compositions.

In addition to acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, Sosa uses various electronic effects and samples-children’s voices, percussion, stray chordal washes-to add additional flavors to these pieces. The result is an expansive, multi-part work that additionally hints at electronica, classical new music, downtempo-even new age. Sosa has recorded solo piano albums in the past, but as the title here indicates, this is something else. “Sunrise” begins with single drawn-out notes and moves into melancholy meanderings, while “Walking Together” enlivens the sound with electric and acoustic layering. “Autumn Flowers” employs fluttering patterns and “Madre” is a warm, poignant hymn.

Calma is less about particularly memorable melodies and more about impressionism and mood setting. It’s all laidback and soothing, to a fault. The disc is fine but ultimately far less satisfying than Sosa’s full-band albums.

Originally Published