ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Pianist-percussionist Omar Sosa is known for melding his Afro-Cuban roots music with various strains of world music.
Sosa is intensifying his exploration of those roots with his new ensemble, Quarteto AfroCubano, which will be heard on the new CD titled “ile.”
“I think that I have always been close to my Afro-Cuban roots. In fact, until this very day it has been the basis for my music, my great fountain of inspiration,” he said in an email.
“But one thing is certain and that is this new Afro-Cuban quartet, which I have the privilege to rely on, has two Cuban musicians from my birth city (Camagüey) and an African musician (from Mozambique) with whom I have shared music for more than 14 years.”
The Cubans are drummer Ernesto Simpson and saxophonist-flutist Leandro Saint-Hill. The African is electric bass player Childo Tomás.
The quartet will be in concert Wednesday, July 23 and Thursday, July 24 at the Outpost Performance Space as part of the New Mexico Jazz Festival.
With this ensemble and with the album, Sosa said the movement toward “Afro-Cubania is more evident and the return to traditional rhythms (is heard) with more force and strength.”
Simpson, he said in the email, has been a friend of his from their youth and a fellow student at the music conservatory in Camagüey. Saint-Hill is younger but had similar musical upbringing.
“ile,” the title of the CD, is a Yoruban word that Sosa said means land or home. The album is expected to be released next February or March.
The quartet, Sosa said in the email, will play selections from the album and as well perform his compositions from previously released recordings and from a recent live concert in Japan.
The jazz festival’s final event, “Jazz & Poetry,” brings together a cast of poets and jazz musicians at 4 p.m. July 27 at the Outpost. The event is free.
“The (New Mexico quarterly) Malpais Review editor asked me to curate a mini-anthology about jazz poems. So I got 28 poems from people all over the country. Some referenced a jazz musician or a song,” said Albuquerque poet Don McIver.
“I read a few of the poems on a KUNM-FM program I host, ‘The Spoken Word Hour,’ last summer.”
Tom Guralnick, a festival director, heard McIver reading the poems and suggested they should organize something for the festival.
At the event, McIver said, some of the poets will read their work while musicians are performing and in other instances, poets and musicians will alternate reading and playing.
Besides McIver, the poets are Albuquerque poet laureate Jessica Helen Lopez, Lauren Camp, Carlos Contreras, Damien Flores, V.B. Price and A.B. Spellman.
Musicians include pianist John Rangel, bassist Asher Barreras and saxophonist Kanoa Kaluhiwa.