Music Review: SUBA

by Omar Sosa and Seckou KeitaBENDIGEDIG RECORDS
reviewed by John Malkin

OMAR SOSA AND SECKOU KEITA’S new album, SUBA, is a peaceful blend of rhythms and melodies from Cuba, Africa, and South America. Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles adds vital rhythms to this follow-up to the trio’s 2017 debut, Translucent Water. Sosa described SUBA to Spirituality & Health as “a hymn to hope, a new dawn of compassion.”

Cuban-born Sosa is a seven-time Grammy-nominated jazz pianist who began playing percussion at the age of eight. Keita was born in Senegal and started playing the kora (African harp) when he was seven. Keita also sings and plays drums on SUBA, which is the word for sunrise in Mandinka, Keita’s native language.

“The talking drum is a means of communication without words. Friends can communicate without words,” Keita told S&H. “For my collaboration with Omar, being drummers at heart gives us an extra golden tool.”

Sosa told S&H about the making of SUBA, “I said to Seckou, ‘Let’s go to my place in Menorca in front of the sea and create music based in freedom. Let’s see how nature can express herself through us!’ In my religion—Santería—the sea is the mother of the world. This is what the ocean is to the whole planet: love and light. One of the best places to meditate is in front of the ocean, man!”

Keita told S&H that his Islamic faith coupled well with Sosa’s tradition. “We have a spiritual connection that has come from … a strong connection to our motherland. SUBA for me is a smiling sunrise, hope of a new day, leaving the dark behind with prayers. If only we can look ahead to see every sunrise in the future and face them with positive vibes to start the day with.”

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