Mulatos -- Omar Sosa

Ota Records ASIN B0002CHSW4 (Vivid Sound Japan)

This is the first Sosa recording that won’t alienate white bread middle America. Not that there’s anything X rated about his past recordings, but they were a bit over the edge for mainstream listeners of “Wave” music who think Kenny G is a little too far out there. This album could easily get some Wave play, along with the more casual jazz stations who are into people like Stan Getz and play lots of Jobim.

In this album Sosa has moved away from the highly experimental minimalist recordings done in the last two years as well as the hard core fusion efforts such as Prietos and Bembon. With this very mainstream album that will appeal to soft jazz lovers he’s now making the fusion of Latin and Middle Eastern beats sound easy and almost common place!

I’m not saying this is a sell-out either! It’s more like the finished product after making a lot of diamond in the rough works that have a great deal of merit as high musical artistry, but high musical artistry is, unfortunately, not the kind of music you play in the background at a suburban buffet gathering.

Cleverly hidden within this recording are a lot of over the edge moves. The sliding of beats a tad, some exotic instruments, a little improvisational playing, a fusion of tribal cultures from the tropical zone of both the Americas and the North African-Middle Eastern continental regions. That’s a lot of ground to cover in an album of jazz music that easily fits on the six disk CD player along with anything Jobim influenced in the early 1960s or Kenny G covered in the 1990’s.

Here’s a play by play.

1. Ternura

A fast tempo jazz song with a lot of Latin percussion and a Middle Eastern segue. It starts off with a dash of vocals and goes straight into some very hot playing by Sosa and the ensemble (Paquito D’Rivera, Dhaler Voussef, Seven Arguelles, Dieter Ilg, Renau Pion, Philippe Foch, Aziz Amadi.

The album was recorded in France, Spain and New York.

Standing out on this song are bass and percussion followed by the horn.

Some of the scat portions of this song reminded me a lot of the solos use in the later sessions of Steely Dan (Royal Scam and Aja albums -- almost that “Mu” or perfect 2nd feel, that could also be generated by a ninth chord, the sound that Denny Diaz, Chuck Rainey and Victor Feldman used to get the “Dan” sound).

As on Sosa’s earlier effort Bembon the musicians just seem to love to redefine where “one” is supposed to be, but this time in more than one place!

2. Nuevo Manto

A slow jazz song with recurring Latin vocal chants and percussion feel throughout. The themes are simple and haunting, giving the soloists lots of room to maneuver.

3. La Tra

Another slow vamp song, this one has more of a traditional jazz feel, yet the Latin chants are still in the background.

4. Reposo and La Liamanda are two very slow, moody songs.

6. Dos Caminos

The tempo gets faster on this ditty, which has a Middle Eastern influenced staccato vamp as the backbone with some hot, soft drumming and a solo by Sosa that gets back to what I’m used to hearing off his past efforts (what I’ve termed as that “Keith Emerson” sound from ELP).

7. Iyawo

Another slow song featuring Sosa, bass and light percussion at the start, almost a string bass solo then some light vocals. Around the middle they start adding more percussion and layers to the theme and it almost takes on a pop feel.

8. L3zero

My first impression of the start was Soso meets Smash Mouth (boy that’s a new area of fusion), after this they go into a Latin-jazz vamp and finally into a Sosa solo. I think a lot of these little “touches” are the result of producer Steve Arguelles, who did an outstanding job with these sessions and the final mixes.

Will this effort net him another Grammy nomination? That’s unclear, but this offering will get a lot of play from a much wider audience base than his more edgy, experimental works, including some mainstream radio play on Wave type radio stations, which will introduce Sosa to a new audience who may find and embrace his earlier works such as Prietos and Bembon that are a little too spicy for the average American who’s been nurtured on microwave music fresh from the freezer.

This album is highly playable start to finish. It’s music you can play for almost anyone in suburbia. It’s music you can play while reading a book or resting in a hammock after a hard week at work. And it’s music with a lot more heart and soul to it than the average offering from the regulars on Wave stations around the country.

Editor's note: We haven't heard this new album from Sosa as yet, but we are including the press release on the album just for your information...

Aleatoric EFX

Omar Sosa's new solo piano recording (OTA1013). Recorded live at Radio Bremen, Germany, in November 2003, Aleatoric EFX is Omar Sosa's fourth solo piano recording. The new CD combines Omar's free, improvisatory approach to the piano, with his use of a number of electronic effects, also directed live from the piano during the performance. The result is an engaging, multi-dimensional musical experience, with elements of jazz, classical, new music, and electronica.

The term "aleatoric" refers to the chance or random ways in which the subtle electronic elements mesh with the performance both inside the piano and on the keyboard. From the mysterious, ethereal beginnings of Follow My Shadow, with its bass string drone and yearning melodic figure, to the classical lyricism and haunting beauty of Impromptu in D Minor, the recording opens in a delicate, understated mood. Mute Ostinato in C continues Omar's fascination with the bass drone, as in Indian classical music, combined with a series of lilting rhythmic figures, and unique use of the coco shells inside the piano on the strings. Throughout these opening improvisations, we see the influence of one of Omar's classical music mentors, Erik Satie.

Pentatonic Research reveals some of Omar's daring harmonic sense, built on a dialogue of Eastern-tinged, space-age motifs. This is followed by a version of Omar's signature ballad, Iyawo, with its sweet, romantic melody, sliding, as it often does, into a subtle montuno groove. With Sobre Un Manto en E Minor and Siberian Horses, we continue to find ourselves traversing an aural landscape of longing, urgency and surrender.

Only toward the end of the recording, with Intense Moon in F# Minor and the rousing finale, Muevete en D, another of Omar's signature compositions, does he take the energy to a dramatic level. For those who have enjoyed Omar's previous solo piano outings, "Aleatoric EFX" is sure to be an enjoyable addition to the collection. And for those who are new to this dimension of Omar's musical sensibilities, it is sure to be a good place to start.

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Rockit Girl Blasts off With ``Bright Lights'' Tour of U.S. and Canada

Chicago's own Rockit Girl kicks off its U.S. and Canadian tour promoting its "Bright Lights" album, a follow-up to the critically acclaimed "Lift-Off E.P.," with a debut tonight at The Note in Chicago.

The band, headlined and founded by Gina Crosley, former guitarist and lead singer for Veruca Salt and Courtney Love's band Bastard, will tour 15 cities in the Eastern U.S. and Canada, beginning tonight in Chicago and wrapping up in Chareston, IL, on October 2nd.

"We've been looking forward to this tour and album launch for a long time," Crosley said. "It's been such a whirlwind putting `Bright Lights' together and getting our show ready, but our fans have been patient and we want to reward them with a kick-ass start."

The band's second album, "Bright Lights," is an ode to female-driven rock with stylish and resonating guitar tracks and powerful vocals led by Crosley with back-up from Emily Togni. Trent Anderson, the band's drummer and lone male, provides a sharp contrast and rhythm to the women, especially Crosley's explosive guitar work. Joining the band for this tour will be fellow Chicago rock alum John Corcoran on rhythm guitar.

"Bright Lights" is available for download on iTunes, as well as the band's website at and in retail stores.

The band's tour schedule will take them:

September 17, 2004
The Note
1565 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
w/ Textbook, Cats Not Dogs

September 18, 2004
King Club
Madison, WI
w/ Cats Not Dogs and The Cummies

September 19, 2004
The Melody Inn
3826 N. Illinois St.
Indianapolis, IN

September 20, 2004
The Distillery
1896 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43201

September 22, 2004
The HiFi Club
11729 Detroit ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44107
hosted by Billy Morris (from Warrant)

September 23, 2004
The Foundation
34 Dunlop St. East
Barrie ON
w/ The Junction

September 24, 2004
The Underground
41 Catharine St N
Hamilton, ON
w/ The Junction

September 25, 2004
Call The Office
216 York Street
London, Ontario
w/ The Junction

September 26, 2004
The Moho
282 Aylmer St.
Peterborogh ON
w/ The Junction

September 27, 2004
Moe's Tavern
526 Dundas Street East
Waterdown, ON
w/ The Junction

September 28, 2004
Shadow Club
72 McDonnel Street
Guelph, ON
w/ The Junction

September 29, 2004
27 York Street
Ottawa, ON
w/ The Junction

October 1, 2004
31st St. Pub
3131 Penn Ave at 31st St. Bridge
Pittsburgh, PA
w/ The Dammit Janets

October 2, 2004
Friends & Co.
509 Van Buren
Chareston, IL

Crosley has been around the proverbial rock block, and back again. After leaving her first band, Emil Muzz, in 1998 she was approached by Louise Post of Veruca Salt and asked to take over for departing vocalist Nina Gordon.

Crosley declined initially, and instead formed Rockit Girl in the summer of 1999. Her vision was to create a band powered by women with strong voices, strong instrumental skills, and a desire to truly entertain. After the release of the band's first effort, "The Lift-Off E.P.," Rockit Girl found much success in Chicago and across the world, selling CD's in more than a dozen different countries. Not only did the fans respond, but local radio and press were mentioning the band as often as they could.

In a twist of fate, Post, who also produced Rockit Girl's first record, called Crosley one night in 2000 and asked her again to join Veruca Salt. This time she accepted and became the band's new bassist and vocalist.

After only a few months in Veruca Salt, Crosley was approached by Courtney Love's manager to form a new "super group" with Love, Post, and former Hole drummer Patty Schemel. The project, lovingly called Bastard, gave Gina and Rockit Girl international press, and opened up Rockit Girl to a whole new fan base. The project lasted only a few months before Crosley and Post defected, and soon Crosley found herself itching to get back to Rockit Girl.

In the summer of 2002, Gina re-formed Rockit Girl and began writing, recording and winning fans all over again. Rockit Girl was even seen on TV throughout the summer of 2003 after being invited to perform in a commercial for local power company ComEd.

For more information on the band, please go to


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