Lionel Loueke: Mwaliko

African-inflected trios and duets with guitar, bass and vocals

Lionel Loueke

Mwaliko

(Blue Note)

Lionel Loueke’s tender-toned acoustic guitar and warm-hearted vocals finely balance African-inflected complexity with metropolitan fluency.

His latest album, which includes duets with vocalist Angelique Kidjo and bassists/vocalists Esmeralda Spalding and Richard Bona, is not so well integrated, though there are fine tracks and some sublime moments – a drums and guitar duet bending Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti” to abstraction stands out.

Loueke is at his brilliant best with his regular trio and “Twins”, featuring Esmerald Spalding, has terrific instrumental rapport – the vocals sound somewhat unfinished – while Bona is an over-sentimental partner.

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