Last year, when the former owner of this publication -- a man not known for his better judgment -- put out a debut solo album by Cuban pianist Omar Sosa on his PriceClub label, local music journalists were amazed. The man had finally gotten something right. Sosa's avant-garde blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms, Havana hip hop, and American jazz leapt off the CD and played parlor games with our tympanums. Live, Sosa was no slouch either. Being faster than light and more solid than a tom-tom, Sosa was as comfortable playing on top of the keys as he was playing inside the piano. His energy translated from record to stage, and every Latin outfit in the Bay Area worth its salt asked for his assistance. Dividing his playing time between Quito, Ecuador, and San Francisco allows Sosa to pick and choose between projects and musicians. His new album, Free Roots, also on PriceClub (the man must be doing something right), reflects his discriminating tastes: Jesus Diaz performs on percussion, Elliot Kavee plays drums, Rahsaan Fredericks plays bass, Sheldon Brown plays sax, and Bay Area rapper Will Power supplies the line. Even with a dozen or so other musicians contributing to the mix, Free Roots is 100 percent Sosa. Celebrate Sosa's album release at the Great American Music Hall on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10-12; call 885-0750.
Perhaps you have walked passed Country Station Sushi late at night and been dazzled by the sight of master sushi chef and owner Koichi Tamano practicing some fairly intense dance moves while smoking a cigarette from a long filter. Tamano is the elegant, usually mirthful artistic director of the Country Station's butoh company, Harupin-Ha. (This explains why Country Station is so often, and randomly, closed. He and his wife/waitress/assistant director, Hiroko, take the troupe on the road and the restaurant shuts down.) As part of Theater of Yugen's experimental Monday night series, Tamano has agreed to perform improvised dance (sans cigarette) to the musical musings of Beth Custer on flute. According to Hiroko, Koichi creates shows for Harupin-Ha through this sort of experimental dance. "All the information for the new piece is stored within his body," says Hiroko. "Improvisation is like meditation. The dance comes from within him." The show, which is titled "Experimental Zyme," takes place at the Noh Space on Monday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8; call 621-7978.
-- Silke Tudor