Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita: Transparent Water

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Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita: Transparent Water

Seckou Keita photo by Andy Morgan & Omar Sosa by Tom Erlich.

March 19, 7:30 pm
Triple Door
216 Union St

Presented by Triple Door and KNKX

A concert by Omar Sosa is a séance. One by Seckou Keita induces a trance. To attend a performance by Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita, together, is to be transported into a timeless domain of tradition and dream.

Cuba-reared Sosa is a pianist (and vocalist) of endless imagination and spiritual abandon. He possesses the technical command of his training in the dual classical-popular approach of his nation, but from there, as a US resident since the mid-1990s, has been a world traveler—a multiple-worlds traveler. He has created that rare amalgam of great instrumental accomplishment and open-spirited giving of himself to his many devotees.

His musical vision began with his early years in Camagüey, the Afro-Cuban inland bastion of the island musical nation. From there he has traveled the world both geographically and musically, fusing Latin jazz, African traditions, avant-garde improvisation, classical music, and much else—including keyboard and computer-generated electronics—all while retaining a riveting earthly and spiritual presence.

His performances and recordings are expressions of a quest of deliverance raised up by both sinewy, mysterious compositions, and improvisational abandon.

Among his audiences’ many expressions of appreciation has been a lifetime achievement award from Smithsonian Associates in the other Washington for his contributions to the flourishing of Latin jazz in the United States. In reality, however, his musical palette merely begins with his Cuban roots.

From Senegal, but London based, Seckou Keita descends from a tradition of “griots” in west African court music on the 21- or more-stringed kora harp—often, in Keita’s case, a striking two-kora kora, constructed something like those double axes that John McLaughlin wielded in the heyday of jazz fusion.

In the African courts, over many centuries, griots were bards who expressed the history and soul of their people through styles passed down from father to son.(Traditionally, griots have been born to the role.) Like Sosa, Keita has taken his native traditions out to encounter and engage wider worlds, with equally captivating results. In 2016, for example, he was awarded the Songlines Best Album Award for his last solo album 22 Strings, as well as a nomination for Best Artist.

The Guardian said the album showed that Keita should be “classed alongside the great Toumani Diabaté as one of the adventurous masters of the kora.” In this Seattle appearance, Sosa (piano, fender Rhodes, motif, electronics, vocals) and Keita (kora and vocals), with percussionist and vocalist Gustavo Ovalles in support, perform music exemplified by their acclaimed 2017 debut release Transparent Water. This recording is variously described as, “world music meets world jazz,” “tradition meets improvisation,” “spiritual and earthly,” and “stunningly evocative,” by World Music Central.

It’s a lilting, whispering, uplifting session—a séance, for sure. Sosa and Keita are so sympathetically attuned to each other’s particular talents of musicianship and expression that the fusion of their approaches and musical roots is total. The results are gentle, delicate, and embracing. Enchanting.



Peter Monaghan

Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 day of show, and $38 front rows. Tickets and information available at thetripledoor.net