A very international PIAF 2017: OMAR SOSA QUARTETO AFROCUBANO
Cuban-born pianist and composer Omar Sosa was always going to be the most unique act on the 2017 Chevron Festival Gardens calendar. The moment I glanced eyes on the coveted program I knew... In any given year, PIAF will cherry pick a few world acts to play amongst a selection of contenders for mainstream acclaim like Pitchfork BNM etc. It's at these gigs, where the over 50, intellectual, thick-frame glasses sorts of folk appear.
Sosa approached the stage with reverence, placing a candle on his piano and beginning his set with echoey vocals. A few minutes later, his bass guitarist Childo Tomas joined him whilst playing a native percussion instrument. A few minutes after that, Leandro Saint-Hill and Ernesto Simpson appeared and the vibe transgressed into a jazzy, experimental, world-fusion 15 minute delight. The band were clearly thrilled to be in each other's company, and in Perth, FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ!
Sosa faced had his back to the audience for the duration of the show, save for some occasional piano dancing and march around the stage. I'd never been to a gig where the leader of the group was not facing the audience. Yet for some strange reason, I remained engaged by his sweaty and smiling side profile. When you see someone so overjoyed by his own performance, you know you're onto a winner PIAF!
The genres explored by the quartet's explosive set ranged from latin, soul, Afro beat, hip hop, flamenco, free-form jazz and electronic improv. The songs were difficult to keep a track of as the band weaved in and out of different genres. But one thing is certain, Sosa's music is an extension of his spirit. You can honestly feel the beautiful connection he has with the piano on stage. He has clearly, carved out a special place in world music, merging cuban and african flavours while appealing to the jazzy STM masses.
Thank you OMAR SOSA QUARTETO AFROCUBANO. You put the 'I' in PIAF <3. But honestly, the quartet proved themselves to be a charismatic hybrid representation of Cuban and West African music.