Cheikh Ndoye: Rewmi

Cheikh Ndoye has lived in the U.S. for about 10 years since leaving his native Senegal, where as a teenager he was inspired to take up the electric bass upon hearing Jaco Pastorius. He subsequently received encouragement and guidance from two heavyweights of the instrument, Richard Bona and Jimmy Haslip. A Child's Tale is Ndoye's debut release, an eclectic mix of Bob James's covers, more African-rooted originals, and fusion/contemporary hybrids.

"Rewmi" features the versatile veterans Eric Marienthal, Russell Ferrante and Mike Miller. Ndoye's vibrantly melodic opening statement sets the yearning, contemplative mood. Ferrante's concise yet radiant solo spot precedes Marienthal's keen-edged delivery of the spiraling theme. Marienthal's soprano sax solo exudes a controlled emotional heat, and is quickly followed by Miller's less restrained workout, the guitarist propelled along by Ferrante's emphatic chords. Alas, a fadeout ending comes much too soon. The slick Bob James tracks may garner the most attention, but "Rewmi" is probably more representative of Ndoye's vision.

March 17, 2009 · 1 comment


Pascal Bokar: When Lights Are Low

For over 20 years, Senegalese (now USA-transplanted) guitarist Pascal Bokar has been melding African traditional dance music with jazz. Along the way he has played with such jazz titans as Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Haynes and Donald Byrd. He has been releasing records of his own for over a decade.

Bokar's interesting and pleasing interpretation of the Benny Carter-penned "When Lights Are Low" is an exception among the bebop-inflected standards, permeated with an abundance of African rhythms and occasional vocalese, that comprise Savanna Jazz Club. Bokar is a fine jazz guitarist more than capable of sustaining absorbing straight-ahead or bebop lines that stand up against the quality of the best players. But while the "African-ness" is at a lower ebb than on most of the other cuts, this track retains a distinct and unusual African character thanks to Bokar's unique style of occasionally striking muted strings in a melodic yet percussive manner. It almost sounds as if he is playing the kalimba, an African percussion instrument. He uses this style to great success in establishing the tune's opening theme. According to the liner notes, Bokar calls this style "balafonics." Whatever it is called, it is cool to listen to.

Bailey, Greensill and Williams ably assist Bokar in taking this sing-songy number into an impressive blues realm before returning to the uplifting kalimba-sounding introduction for its coda. A fun time has been had by all.

June 21, 2008 · 0 comments


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