Few musicians have steered the afro-cuban musical heritage into more challeging and adventurous waters than the multi-instrumentalist Omar Sosa. His career started in the mid-eighties, but it blossomed when he moved to San Fransisco in the nineties. He started out at marimba and percussion, and soon progressed to keyboard instruments. His music spans african traditions, free improv, classical music and things touching on ambient – among other things. Throughout a career where he has been nominated for Grammys in several different categories, Sosa has been involved in a series of remarkable collaborations. Recordings with the NDR Big Band from Hamburg and the senegalese kora player Seckou Keita serve as recent examples. In his music, we meet a boundless and borderless musical enthusiasm, but also moments of serenity and introspection, for example in his solo piano recordings. To sift through his discography is quite simply a treasure hunt. Omar Sosas music is an obvious example of the kind of unhinged artistic freedom that we want to shed a light on in this years festival.
At Oslo World, Sosa will meet the swizz-cuban violin player Yilian Cañizares, who also featured at Oslo World in 2016. Cañizares studied classical violin in Cuba. She considered following that path for a long time, but after moving to Switzerland and hearing the music of the late, great french violin player Stephane Grappelli, Cañizares turned to jazz. She started singing in yoruba, spanish and french – often in unison or in harmony with her violin. She also found a space for her cuban heritage. Before she picks up her violin and walks onstage, Yilian Cañizares pays homage to her ancestors. Candles are lit. Prayers are said, and offerings made. Onstage, she seeks musical ecstasy. She stretches the vast technical boundaries of her violin playing. She also tries to connect with her past. Together, Sosa and Cañizares are living testimonies to two of the most important kinds of freedoms in music – the freedom to belong, and the freedom to move on.