Omar Sosa-Dhafer Youssef Trio


The Scottish Arts Council’s Tune Up touring scheme has thrown up some very intriguing collaborations in its short but influential history, many of them emanating from Big Big World promoter Billy Kelly in Glasgow. His latest offering brings together not only pianist Omar Sosa and oud maestro Dhafer Youssef, but also American percussion wizard Marque Gilmore in a truly stellar trio.

Billy has already promoted both Sosa and Youssef individually, and felt that bringing them together would be ‘a magical combination’. They are working on a new set of material for the tour, which opens in Aberdeen the night before the Edinburgh date, and also takes in a gig in Shetland.

Sosa is rightly regarded as a major innovator in combining jazz with influences not only from his native Cuba, but the whole African heritage of the music. That long-standing interaction with African roots has included collaborations with many leading musicians from both Africa and South America.

It seemed natural enough, then, to team up with the Tunisian singer and oud player, another exploratory figure on the world-jazz scene. If that wasn’t enough, the duo added percussionist Marque Gilmore’s cutting-edge contemporary fusion aesthetic to the mix. As Sosa sees it, in today’s fluid musical mindset they can take their music in pretty much any direction they choose.

‘For me, nothing is avant garde today. Everything is already on the table. Garlic, onions and rice can go together in so many different ways. The spirit people put into the food when they cook is always unique from one place to the next. That’s pretty much how I feel about the music.’

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Wed 18 Oct; The Space, Dundee, Fri 20 Oct; Tolbooth, Stirling, Sat 21 Oct; Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Sun 22 Oct

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