Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa has spent nearly 30 years exploring different facets of African music. He’s recorded more than two dozen albums, and each one is a journey of discovery and wonder. Among the most sublime are his collaborations with virtuosos from Africa and the African diaspora, including his two most recent, 2017’s Transparent Water and 2021’s Suba, where the lineups include Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita and Afro-Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles.
Under the name Suba Trio, Sosa, Keita, and Ovalles deliver performances rich with affectionate instrumental dialogue, effervescent dynamics, and jazz improvisations. Sosa alternates between grand piano and Fender Rhodes, Keita plays talking drum as well as kora, and Ovalles adds the deep, full sounds of gourds, the rich rattle of maracas, and a mix of syncopated beats from numerous Afro-Venezuelan and Caribbean drums.
Like their recordings, the trio’s concerts offer moments of mystical lyricism and quiet beauty. But live, they also erupt into joyful, raucous abandon. The musicians seem to delight in revelations of their common musical roots—much like distant family members meeting for the first time and happily recognizing shared traits and features. At Suba Trio’s show at the Jazz Showcase last September, they often danced as they wove an elegant tapestry of sound, using a leitmotif of West African rhythms. Their upcoming concert at Epiphany promises to be a healing experience: their bright, shining tunes suggest the possibility of connection, optimism, and hope.
Suba Trio Suba Trio consists of pianist Omar Sosa, kora player Seckou Keita, and percussionist Gustavo Ovalles. Sun 4/30, 7:30 PM, Epiphany Center for the Arts, 201 S. Ashland, $25-$200, 21+