Omar Sosa, Seckou Keita, and Gustavo Ovalles reveal the essence of Africa in the Americas with their musical conversation as Suba Trio
By Catalina Maria Johnson April 25, 2023
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.
About Epiphany Center for the Arts
Conceived with the vision to return Epiphany to a place for people to congregate, the shuttered, historic Church of the Epiphany has been preserved and adapted into the Epiphany Center for the Arts, an iconic cultural hub “For the Good of Art, Entertainment and Events.” Thoughtfully designed, the exemplary 42,000-square-foot campus located on the artsy edge of Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood boasts three distinct venues (Epiphany Hall, The Sanctuary and The Chase House) and a stunning array of amenities. The campus also features eight galleries that serve as a platform for a diverse selection of artists from Chicago and beyond. Epiphany’s exhibitions showcase the work of women, the LGBTQIA community, artists of color, and the disability culture. Epiphany’s top priority is to curate programming that is inclusive, while providing a place established artists can collaborate with emerging ones. Epiphany’s programming serves to unite community and artists alike while “Bringing Chicago Together.” Visit www.epiphanychi.com to learn more.