Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa is one of the most versatile jazz artists on the scene today. He fuses a wide range of jazz, world music, and electronic elements with his native Afro-Cuban roots to create a fresh and original urban sound – all with a Latin jazz heart.
Omar Sosa’s musical trajectory has taken him from Camagüey and Havana to touring in Angola, the Congo, Ethiopia, and Nicaragua in the 1980s; to a sojourn in the African-descent communities of Ecuador in the early 1990s; to an extended presence on the San Francisco Bay Area Latin jazz scene; to his current engagement with artists from France, Cuba, Brazil, and several North, West, and East African nations. His career embodies the expansive outlook of a visionary artist who has taken Monk’s uncompromising spirit to heart, while working ceaselessly to craft and project a unique, cosmopolitan voice.
Omar Sosa received a lifetime achievement award from the Smithsonian Associates in Washington, DC in 2003 for his contribution to the development of Latin jazz in the United States. Over the years, Omar has been nominated seven times for GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY awards, and twice for the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards. In 2003 he received the Afro-Caribbean Jazz Album of the Year Award from the Jazz Journalists Association in NYC for his recording Sentir; and a nomination from the Jazz Journalists Association for Latin Jazz Album of the Year in 2005 for his recording Mulatos, featuring Paquito D’Rivera. In 2008, Omar Sosa was commissioned by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and the Oakland East Bay Symphony to compose a major work for symphony orchestra (From Our Mother), supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. In 2009, the Barcelona Jazz Festival commissioned Omar to write a tribute to Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue recording, featuring Afro-Cuban interpretations of the seminal Davis work on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.
Omar has released over 30 recordings as a leader, including Ceremony with the NDR Big which received an ECHO Jazz Award in 2011 for Big Band Album of the Year in Germany, followed in 2017 by his second collaboration with the NDR Bigband entitled es:sensual. In 2019 Omar received a Premios LUCAS in Cuba for Best Song Video for ‘Oshun’ from his CD ‘AGUAS’ with Yilian Cañizares.
In January 2012, Omar collaborated with celebrated Italian trumpet and flugelhorn player, Paolo Fresu, on the release of Alma, and in 2016 on their second release, Eros, both featuring guest cello contributions by the master Brazilian conductor, arranger, producer, and cellist, Jaques Morelenbaum (who also did the big band arrangements for Ceremony).
Omar’s touring schedule includes upwards of 100 concerts each year on five continents.
Omar Sosa was born in Camagüey, Cuba in 1965. He moved to Havana in 1980 to continue his music studies at the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Música, finishing his formal training at the Instituto Superior de Arte in 1983. Among his influences, Omar cites traditional Afro-Cuban music, European classical composers (including Chopin, Bartok, and Satie), jazz masters Monk, Coltrane, Parker, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Chucho Valdés, and the pioneering Cuban jazz group Irakere.