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“Anyone approaching this film about the iconic Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa, by the award-winning filmmaker Soren Sorensen will be almost immediately struck by its [the film’s] Joycean [Ulysses-like] ‘stream-of-consciousness’ narrative style.” Raul Da Gama, Latin Jazz Net.
The Geller Jazz series is pleased to present Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums, a new feature-length documentary on the life and music of Cuban-born pianist and composer, Omar Sosa. One of the most versatile jazz artists on the scene today, he fuses jazz, world music, and electronic elements with his native Afro-Cuban roots to create a fresh and original sound—with a Latin jazz heart. This screening will be followed with a Question & Answer session with the filmmaker Soren Sorensen and Sosa as well as Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita, and manager Scott Price.
The film traces multiple Grammy-nominee Omar Sosa origins from his birth in Camagüey, Cuba to Ecuador where he briefly wrote and arranged commercial jingles. Sosa’s story continues with a fateful mid-90s move to the U.S., a stint as a sought-after sideman in the Bay Area’s Latin jazz scene, and partnership with manager Scott Price that continues to this day.
Since 2013, whenever Sosa appeared in the northeastern U.S., Providence-based filmmaker Soren Sorensen was granted unprecedented access to Sosa and his bandmates for interviews, rehearsals, and performances. Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums includes glimpses of the globetrotting artist in duo with celebrated Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu, with the Afri-Lectric Experience, and with his latest band, the Quarteto AfroCubano in storied venues including New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club.
Sosa’s Quarteto AfroCubano features fellow Camagüey natives Ernesto Simpson on drums and Leandro Saint-Hill on alto saxophone and flute and bassist Childo Tomas, who hails from Maputo, Mozambique. Perhaps most thrilling for fans is the full-circle nature of Sosa’s 2015 album Ilé, which reunited Sosa’s music with its Cuban roots.
Since 1997, Sosa has released nearly 30 albums and received four Grammy nominations and three Latin Grammy nominations. Performing over 80 concerts on six continents annually, Sosa is known for a rhythmic style (hence the “Drums” of the film’s title) and musical influences as varied as his travel itinerary.
Soren Sorensen is an award-winning filmmaker specializing in documentary film and television with an emphasis on social and cultural issues. His first feature-length documentary, My Father’s Vietnam (2016), combines interviews and never-before-seen photographs and 8mm footage of the era, to tell the story of three soldiers, only one of whom returned home from the Vietnam War alive. The film premiered at the 2015 Rhode Island International Film Festival, where it won the Soldiers and Sacrifice Grand Prize. My Father’s Vietnam is currently available on streaming video-on-demand platforms, and on Blu-ray and DVD.
Sorensen’s most recent film is the short documentary, With Dad. Based on the book of the same name by photographer and Clark University Studio Art professor Stephen DiRado, With Dad features DiRado’s still photography, specifically during the painful 20-year period of his father’s decline and eventual death from Alzheimer’s disease. The film premiered at the 2020 Rhode Island International Film Festival, where it won the Youth Jury First Prize for Best Short Documentary. The film also won awards in 2020 at the Houston International Film Festival, the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, and the Mystic Film Festival. In 2021, With Dad won two awards, for Best Short Documentary and Best Editing, at the Red Dirt Film Festival in Stillwater, OK.
Sorensen is currently a faculty member and director of the Screen Studies program in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Clark University.
Selma Geller was a New York City philanthropist who died in 2007. She was deeply concerned about the lack of musical educational opportunities available to the current generation of students. Her gifts to Clark University for music scholarships and musical performances are a testament to her desire to bring the original American musical art form to the Clark community.
Other events in our series:
Sunday, April 16, 2023, 7:30pm
SUBA Trio — Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita, featuring Gustavo Ovalles
Razzo Hall, Traina Center for the Arts
Tickets required ($20 general admission/$10 with Clark ID)
Wednesday, April 19, 2022, 7:30pm
Donald Harrison Quintet
With opening set by the Fabian Almazan Quartet
Razzo Hall, Traina Center for the Arts
Tickets required ($25 general admission/$10 with Clark ID
You may also purchase a ticket for all three events in the Geller Jazz: Havana to New Orleans series ($30 general admission/$12 with a Clark ID)