When extraordinary musicians join forces, breathtaking beauty can ensue—and such is the case in the “Transparent Water”, the new CD and concert collaboration between 7-time Grammy-nominated pianist-composer-bandleader Omar Sosa and U.K.-based Senegalese kora master and singer Seckou Keita, featuring folkloric Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles.
Each piece on the album is a translucent, flowing gem of deeply nuanced musical dialogue, as each master musician reveals humanity’s finest spirit in the roots and traditions across three continents.
As Sosa comments in a phone call from his home base in Barcelona, after playing a set with Keita in London some years back, he felt an instant affinity and connection to the master kora player. The recording of “Transparent Water”, he explains, then happened about 5 years ago in Osnabruck, Germany in a remote but beautiful rural location, with mostly “grass and cows”, he says, chuckling.
Sosa describes the weeks the musicians spent together in the studio as following a natural, organic schedule—conversation, recording, meals, repeat. It was a very natural process, that Sosa sees reflected in the music, which he describes as flowing and peaceful—contemplative pieces in which space and silence were “leit motifs.” As he puts it, “We showed up ‘naked’ to the studio—with no preconceptions. Ready to explore fresh takes on our roots, me as an Afrolatino Caribbean, him as a griot,” and ready to revel in “the authenticity of the moment.”
What this resulted in, says Sosa, is a recording that “affirmed and ratified the magic of interaction,” likening it to two master chefs mixing spices to come up with a new dish that delights them.
Sosa concludes likening “Transparent Water” to a painting: “We usually try to surprise others with overwhelming quantity and force… this was about depicting something with the subtlest, purest of strokes, discovering the magic of simplicity.”
Feature photo: Left, Seckou Keita. Right, Omar Sosa. Courtesy of the Artists.
Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita will perform at Old Town School of Folk Music on March 15.
Check out Catalina’s weekly exploration of the past, present and future of Latinx music on Beat Latino.