25 For The Future


In a celebrated 1927 letter to Sigmund Freud, the French mystic Romain Rolland made reference to what he called an “oceanic feeling,” a sense of being at one with the whole of creation in the way the ocean binds together the earth. It serves as a useful description of the otherwise impossible-to-categorize music of Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita, which not only bridges the Atlantic from Cuba to Senegal, but offers a genuine “world music.”

What the pianist and kora master create on this second album, after 2017’s Transparent Water, feels like a sonic voyage, mostly calm and untroubled, but with deep-sea swells just under the surface. On tracks such as “Voices On The Sea” and “Floating Boat,” the imagery is made more explicit. Morelenbaum’s cello and British-French percussion maestro Argüelles play a critical role in touching those extra dimensions, but for the most part attention falls on Sosa’s spacious keyboard shapes and Keita’s quietly commanding voice and rippling kora part. The album, relatively brief by today’s standards, but — not a second too long or short — is probably best heard as a continuous suite.

British keyboard artist Pat Thomas has recently spoken about the often-overlooked Arab influence on jazz. There’s evidence for that here, with intimations of rhythms not often encountered in bop or swing but somehow implied and available throughout the body of our music.

As we look more urgently to the fate of the oceans, we need also to acquire the gift of oceanic hearing, and that’s what Suba offers.

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