While the connection between Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu was established back in 2006, their partnership truly blossomed with Alma (Ota Music, 2012), a beauty of an album with a soft sell approach. That record—quite possibly the most moving item in either man's discography—prioritized heart over all else, and this follow-up date follows suit.
This release is of a different and more ambitious kind than other releases of the mid-2010s on the Lyrita revival label. Like the others, it is taken from BBC broadcasts, but in this case, the recording was made in a studio, not live, and the sound quality is much superior. The most unusual feature is the music by the almost-forgotten Granville Bantock, who was as responsible as anyone else for the ongoing popularity of Sibelius in Britain, and who, believe it or not, liked to dress up as the medieval Persian poet Omar Khayyam.
Opal Fire (2002). Son of a UN diplomat and classically trained, exciting young pianist Akram grew up digesting musical influences from around the world. These exotic flavors are brilliantly woven together in melodies that take flight and soar with expansive orchestrations and passionate rhythms and in more soothing moments, evoke an emotional response in a beautifully serene way…
GRAMMY WINNER for Best New Age Album of 2012! The music of Omar Akram is a marriage of passion and grace, of adventure and relaxation, of beauty and raw earthiness. He crafts soundscapes that capture the peaceful nature of relaxing in the backyard on a lazy afternoon. Yet, within those compositions is the spark of a daydream; a fantasy of traveling along the Mediterranean coast, exploring its towns and countryside treasures. With this new album for Real Music, newlywed Akram contemplates the nature of love with a collection of twelve songs set in his characteristic style. Piano and strings join with Spanish guitar, while rumba-tinged rhythms and lush new age textures create a sound that is pleasant and exotic. Guest musicians include Charlie Bisharat on violin, Gregg Karukas on keyboards and Brian Kilgore on ethnic percussion. The kiss of romance burns bright in each of the songs, with their tender melodies and clear warmth. Listeners with a love for grand instrumental music will certainly enjoy this release.
Best by Far, Omar's fifth album, trailed This Is Not a Love Song by four years and duly pleased the majority of his fan base by merely existing. It's another eclectic set that dips into a number of styles of the time – flashes of garage, broken beat, club-oriented soul-pop, and easy listening are present, but it's an Omar album through and though, just as much as any of its predecessors. There are a few moments when the album falters in its lack of focus, as if Omar is trying to make up for lost time by throwing everything into the pot, but at least 30 minutes here stand up well next to his previous best work. [Note: Depending on the territory of release, the album varies in its bonus remixes, and – bizarrely – the cover of William DeVaughn's "Be Thankful for What You've Got" may feature either Angie Stone or Erykah Badu.]
Omar Souleyman returns with a new album, To Syria, With Love, on June 2 (via Mad Decent). The follow-up to Bahdeni Nami, according to a press release, is a “personal ode” to Souleyman’s native country that eschews politics entirely. The record features keys by Hasan Alo and lyrics written by Souleyman’s longtime collaborator Shawah Al Ahmad.
Crescent Moon is a set of diversely fluid desert ambience with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences. Multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek created this massive soundscape with assistance from Brian Keane.