Richard Bona has done a wonderful job with his solo releases. They bring his salt-of-the-earth singing and bass playing, but with a harmonic sophistication that makes it clear that he can mix with the best the Jazz world can offer. Though this album is more of a vocal oriented album without much by way of bass playing, it’s still worth listening to for its value as high art.
It all starts with the aptly titled “Incantation”. Its incredibly feel-some, and right up there with the best pieces of a-capella singing I’ve ever heard. The melodic chorus thing continues in “Kalabancoro”. By now, the musical bar has been set very high, particularly with the flute and screaming singing, and beautiful production. At this point, its hard for me to imagine how it could get much better later on.
Compared to highly symphonic “Kalabancoro”, “Sono Mama” is much earthier, with the exception of the harmonized vocals. As fantastic a bass player as Richard Bona is, I’m convinced that his singing is a thing of delicate and touching beauty. He should sing more. Especially in his native language. If you read this Mr.Bona, please do take my advice seriously.
I’m convinced that his singing is a thing of delicate and touching beauty.
Of course, this album isn’t strong all the way through. “Painting A Wish” is too easy-listening-elevator-muzak for me to be truly taken by it. And “Engingilaya” continues a slightly sagging mid-album slump for this recording. I also find the verses of “Balemba Na Bwemba” a bit too post Def Leppard emo-rock, though the chorus is this bouncy ethnic affair, which makes me want to dance. And the rest of the song continues with a lovely instrumental section which is again ethnic and bouncy. It saves the song. The rest of the album, though continues with beautiful and haunting and emotionally intense music all though, with “Muto Bye Bye” being particularly noteworthy in its gorgeousness. It’s a must listen.
Now, I haven’t talked much about Richard Bona’s bass playing virtuosity, because its obvious he doesn’t think of ways to squeeze the maximum number of notes in the minimum possible time (I’m looking at you, Mr.Generic Metal Guitar soloist), but serves the song. Even his bass solo showcase “Playground” makes the bass sing and not masturbate. Respect!
All in all, this is music everyone should listen to. My lack of understanding of the language only makes it better for me, as the words of the language become music themselves. This sounds very right.
More JAZZ/ JAZZ FUSION shit HERE.