In this new live Duo recording, Omar celebrates his ongoing collaboration with Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles. These two kindred spirits have been performing together since 1999, delighting audiences throughout Europe, Japan and the United States with their inspired musical chemistry and creativity.
Ayaguna was recorded at Motion Blue in Yokohama, Japan, the newest of the Blue Note venues in that country, in July 2002. The intimate duo setting allows Omar to exult freely and passionately at the piano (Inside and out), moving with ease from intensive groove patterns to delicate, balladic modes of expression.
The performance is enhanced by the live interaction of the Motion Blue sound engineer, who provides an undulating dimension of audio effects throughout the concert. While the various sound effects interact with the piano performance, Gustavo’s percussion accompaniment provides a steady base for the aural feast.
Gustavo is featured on a number of interesting Venezuelan percussion instruments including quitiplas and culo’e puya, as well as congas, bongo, maracas, guiro, snare and cymbals. An extraordinary synergy and sensitivity between the two musical voices is evident throughout the recording.
The title, Ayaguna , is taken from Ifa, the religious practice of the Yoruba culture of West Africa, and its New World offspring in Cuba (known as Santeria). Ayaguna is one of the paths of Obatala, the deity of peace and wisdom, albeit a path of Obatala as a young and fierce warrior, for whom revolution is a necessary part of change and progress. Both Omar and Osvaldo are “sons” of Obatala in their practice of Santeria, from which they draw much inspiration.
Ayaguna includes an enhanced CD bonus track version of the ballad Iyawo, featuring multi-media visual production by London-based VJs Marc Silver and Nick Hillel, collectively known as Yeast. The bonus track offers an engaging glimpse into one of Omar’s new directions for live performance, in which the VJs sample, mix and project images onto a large screen in synchronization with the music.