Omar Alfredo Rodríguez-López is an American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, writer, actor and film director. He is known for being the guitarist and band-leader of The Mars Volta from 2001 until their breakup in 2012, and is currently the guitarist for the alternative rock groups At the Drive-In, Antemasque and Bosnian Rainbows. He was also the bassist for the dub band De Facto. He has embarked on a solo career, both in studio and in concert, frequently described as experimental, avant-garde and/or progressive. He has collaborated with numerous artists spanning from John Frusciante to El-P.
Fans of muscular progressive rock will love Solar Fire, a concept album loosely designed around cosmology. The album opens with the majestic "Father of Night, Father of Day," which has the drive and complexity of a prime King Crimson track. As unlikely as it may seem, the track was controversial in Mann's native South Africa because of the "Father of black, father of white" line, implying that apartheid might not extend to infinite space. The album moves on to the progressive rock/jazz fusion of "In the Beginning, Darkness," a swinging, even funky track that benefits from soulful vocals by Doreen Chanter and Irene Chanter of the Grove Singers. The same duo contributes to the title track, a slow piece that begins with a fairly standard rock structure and incorporates a massive progressive jam in the middle.
"Solar Heat" featured the vibraphonist and bandleader in a stellar group with conguero Ray Barretto, João Donato on organ, Michael Abene on harpsichord and Fender Rhodes, both McFarland (who arranged this recording) and Tjader on vibes, percussionist Orestes Vilató, and bassists Bobby Rodriguez and Chuck Rainey. It's a killer program of pop tunes like "La Bamba," and "Never My Love," as well as killer McFarland originals such as "Fried Bananas." Track list notwithstanding, this is one of Tjader's finest moments on record. His soloing and melodic invention is delightfully showcased as the logical center between Donato's brilliant organ playing and the crystalline arrangements.