music-CD-lionel-loueke.jpg

Mwaliko

Lionel Loueke
BLUE NOTE/EMI

Mostly comprised of duets with guests, including Angelique Kidjo and Esperanza Spalding, plus three songs with his trio, Mwaliko could have been a disaster. The clarity of Lionel Loueke’s vision, however, weaves the album’s disparate threads into a unified tapestry. “Ami O” sets the pace. Loueke’s lilting guitar and Kidjo’s singing sound warm and full. “Griot” is akin to “Wes Montgomery Goes to Africa,” and “Wishes” and “Hide Life” both feature eloquent bass and vocals of Richard Bona from Cameroon. The former evokes the Jaco Pastorius/Pat Metheny work with Joni Mitchell, while the latter, a Loueke original, has the upbeat feel of a traditional African song. A veteran of bands with Herbie Hancock and Terence Blanchard, Loueke continues his successful, satisfying explorations of the crossroads where American jazz and traditions of his homeland intersect.