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Omar Sosa & Paolo Fresu: Eros

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Nearly a quarter century has passed since Cuban pianist Omar Sosa emigrated to the States, launching a brilliant, internationally acclaimed recording career that shows not the faintest sign of waning. In fact, Eros, which reteams the keyboardist with Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu, may well rank among his most rewarding collaborations, partly because it’s so warmly enhanced by the presence of vocalist Natacha Atlas, cellist Jaques Morelenbaum and the Italian string ensemble Quartetto Alborada.

Sosa and Fresu may be the core duo, but in name only. Multi-instrumentalists, they bring an expansive palette of colors to the arrangements, plus a spacious sense of atmosphere-by turns romantic, soulful and spiritual. Sosa deploys acoustic and electric keyboards, synthesizers, sampling, percussion and vocals, while Fresu, often revealing his close artistic kinship with fusion-era Miles Davis, artfully doubles on trumpet and flugelhorn. Here and there, he also adds percussion to the session’s textured backdrops.

Singing in Arabic, Atlas helps kick off the album with something unexpected, a freshly arranged cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop.” But the most striking performances are found elsewhere. “My Soul, My Spirit” fully capitalizes on Atlas’ deeply longing vocals. “Brezza del Verano,” a ballad, is as lovely as it is insinuating, with Sosa and Fresu contributing equally to its romantic allure. Nothing here conjures a stark shade of the blues quite as expressively as “What Is Inside”-though, in this case, the spotlight is shared by Fresu and Morelenbaum. And as for the delightfully buoyant, cha-cha-cha-accented ensemble romp “Why,” it’s not the album’s closer it appears to be. That distinction is reserved for the misterioso ghost track “Kypris,” which is well worth the wait.

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