Mark Weinstein/Omar Sosa – Tales From The Earth – Ota Records

by | Oct 25, 2009 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Mark Weinstein/Omar Sosa – Tales From The Earth – Ota Records OTA 10210,  62:51  ***1/2:

(Mark Weinstein: concert alto and bass flutes; Omar Sosa: vibraphone, marimba, piano, percussion; Aly Keita: balafon; Jean Paul Bourelly: guitar; Stanislou Michalak: bass; Marque Gilmore: drums; Aho Luc Nicaise: lead vocals, percussion; Mathias Agbokou: vocals, percussion.)

Tales from the Earth is a collaboration between Cuban born marimba/vibist/pianist Omar Sosa and flautist Mark Weinstein. Both are innovators who have contributed to contemporary Afro-Cuban music and both have cultivated a passion for musical cultures that extend outside of the mainstream.  

Tales From the Earth came together shortly after the players involved with this project participated in an African-Cuban music Festival in Berlin.  The ensemble had not played together before and there were no charts. Harking from diverse cultural backgrounds including Cuban, Haitian American, Afro-American, African, Polish, Jewish American antecedents, all had one thing in common – a dedication to a profound engagement with African music.

What emerged from this session is not so much a collection of songs as a compilation of musical spaces. Much of the music consists of layered drums, bells and shakers, with another layer of tuned percussion such as marimba, balafon and vibraphone riding on top. Free form flutes interspersed with Haitian or African vocals drift through the air above this percolating trance groove.  It is an exotic and attractive aural fragrance that fills the listening environment with sensuous sounds.

If one is looking for compositional development and form, this is not the road to travel. However if the listener can simply relax and allow the music to sweep him/her away on a sojourn through steamy jungles, swooping across expansive savannahs and luxuriating in the mist of a hidden waterfall surrounded by primeval ferns, this is a journey he/she will want to take.

Occasionally, Weinsten and Sosa reveal their jazz roots, as they delicately walk the tightrope between strict modal and free playing. But the music, no matter how far out the melodic improvisation gets, is always firmly rooted in groove making the proceedings accessible to most listeners, especially to those accustomed to the occasional implementation of “outside” playing.

I found after a while that there was a similarity between tracks that led to a mild case of ear fatigue. While I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this CD to lovers of atmospheric groove music (that occasionally paints outside the lines,) I think the CD would’ve benefitted with from the inclusion of a few actual compositions scattered in with the free jams. 

The melting pot of influences that are infused into Tales is also reflective of a deeper philosophical consideration of the Diaspora and how it has affected the peoples of many cultures. In that regard there is an underlying theme that pervades this CD that makes it a more profound and emotional statement than first meets the ear.  Also, as scientists have traced the roots of human evolution to the Africa continent, this CD perfectly illustrates the commonality of all races found in the true cradle of civilization.

TrackList: Sunrise; Invocation; Walking Song; Tea Break; Forest Journey; River Crossing; Children at Play; Men’s Talk; Flirtation; Praise; Spirit Messenger; Celebration; Elders Speak; Gratitude.

– Brian Whistler

Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure
Logo Apollo's Fire
Logo Crystal Records Sidebar 300 ms
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01
La Clave – Acoustic Sounds

La Clave – Acoustic Sounds

Verve/Universal Music Group releases a re-mastered vinyl of an obscure, but highly entertaining 70’s album. 

La Clave – Acoustic Sounds

La Clave – Acoustic Sounds

Verve/Universal Music Group releases a re-mastered vinyl of an obscure, but highly entertaining 70’s album.