Lionel Loueke: Skylark
Lionel Loueke (guitar, vocals)
Karibu (Blue Note)
Composed by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer.
Recorded: Bennett Studios, Englewood, New Jersey, September 2007
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
The song may be by Hoagy Carmichael, but the attitude here is clearly in the world fusion camp. Lionel Loueke grew up in Benin in West Africa, and he incorporates a number of distinctively African elements into his interpretation of this 1942 standard. I like his bright guitar voicings with their open, spacey sound, and his melodic sensibility, closer to Ali Farka Touré than to bebop or fusion. Other jazz players tend to take these old songs and try to make them more complicated, but pop tunes from the golden era had lots of sophistication built into them at the factory; so it is often more effective to bring a more streamlined, diatonic sensibility to this material, as Loueke does effectively here. This artist has a fresh sound, and it will be interesting to watch his career develop to see how far he can take it.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia