JAZZ/ JAZZ FUSION / Richard Bona

Toto, Bona, Lokua – RICHARD BONA – 2004

This is another nice little ditty by Richard Bona, albeit as a collaboration with..err…two other guys. I don’t where the other two guys are, frankly, because the sound and singing is Bona all through. Which is no bad thing, mind you. It’s a world away from mainstream pop music and even most of rock music (no matter how underground), in that it’s not afraid to be happy and playful. I reckon that is very important in a world of music neatly divided into oversexed pop-tarts on the one hand and the perennially depressed woe-is-me factory on the other. Of course, I don’t understand the language he is singing in. He could very well be calling me a card carrying pedophile, and I’d be none the wiser. I’m talking about how the sounds feel as opposed to what the words mean. And it sounds happy to me.

Richard Bona and err....two other guys.

“Lamuka” is a real standout track. It starts with a pleasantly rhythmically uncomfortable guitar riff that pretty much carries the whole track, with some major Afro-blues singing going on. With kick-ass background harmonies. Basic, heartfelt and sexy. The blues singing here is a surprising turn for the interesting which I hadn’t experienced in Bona‘s music before, but it’s a pleasant surprise, which continues in a slightly sultry vein on “L’Endormie” and the beautiful “Flutes”. The latter doesn’t really have any flutes on the track, but the flute-like voices of Richard Bona and…erm…the other two guys. Great singers, all of them.
It’s all very soulful, but I miss some seriously hooky melodies, which I think are Bona‘s real strong point. Of course, there are melodies, and some real earthy ones, like “Naye”, but they don’t grab me like, say, “Kalabancoro” on his fantastic live album, Bona Makes you Sweat. Now, I’m not one to judge….hang on…I am one to judge, and I do think some of the melodies could be stronger. They make the difference between a good album- which this is- and an excellent album, which this isn’t. And sometimes, like on “Help Me” (the only english song on this album), it’s a bit boring. Further, there happen to be a couple of seemingly pointless interludes like “The Front”.

“Basic, heartfelt, and sexy.”

That said, this album has it’s strong points. It’s flawlessly produced, happy, earthy and reflects the artists and their backgrounds very well. I’m starting to believe that Bona is best sampled as a live artist, as except Munia, none of his solo albums or guests spots have been as good as his live stuff. Even so, this sounds somewhat right.

– El Bajista


FUSION reviews HERE.



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