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World Music CD Reviews Africa

LOKUA KANZA, RICHARD BONA, GERALD TOTO 

By Robert Kaye
Published September 23, 2005

Toto Bona Lokua
Sunnyside

Last winter a trio of warm-hearted, talented musicians was invited to participate in an intimate project initiated by renowned Parisian producer Laurent Bizot. Featured are bassist/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Richard Bona, from Cameroon; keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Lokua Kanza, from Democratic Republic of Congo; and vocalist Gerald Toto, from the island of Martinique. All three musicians enjoy impressive track records, each having recorded in a variety of styles including world music, pop and jazz. The album, which was partly recorded in each musician’s home studio, is a flavorsome musical mélange that is an intimate expression in short song form.  Throughout each track, Toto/Bona/Lokua’s voices blend as one, complementing each other’s timbre and expressiveness. There’s a distinctive Bobby McFerrin-like flair, with multi-textured vocal tracks being a salient element throughout. Each song features engaging melodies that captivate, inspire and enthrall. The musical accompaniment generally serves to jettison the vocals higher, never obscuring or subverting them into the background. Interspersed throughout are instrumental moments, such as Lokua’s two-minute bittersweet piano vignette, “Stesuff.” Bona opens his composition “Seven Beats” with an amazing harmonics ostinato on his bass guitar. Overall, there is much to hear here.

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   BABATUNDE OLATUNJI