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World Music CD Reviews Africa

JIT JIVE

By NED HAMMAD
Published May 31, 2006

ZIMBABWEAN STREET PARTY
Sheer Sound

Crap packaging hides a handful of sublime, upbeat dance tracks in this, the initial release in a new series of compilations from the Sheer label. We get 12 tracks by as many artists, with liner notes that are anemic at best: “A feast of Zimbabwean stars, Mbira, guitars and rootsy beats, to get you dancing on your feet!” Simon Chimbetu’s “Ndaremerwa (One Week)” entices with a skittering snare beat and simple catchy vocals that recount the days of the week. The track takes off when several musical layers fall away to reveal a lush, highly effected guitar line driving the groove all along. “Rirongere,” by Oliver Mtukudzi, wobbles joyously on a lopsided, polyrhythmic groove built on simple, interlocking bits of guitar, bass and drums. Unfortunately, Jit Jive doesn’t sustain the energy or spirit of these worthy cuts. Indeed, Don Gumbo’s “Thank You Lord” is highly reminiscent of the throwaway pop Lionel Richie inflicted on us back in the ’80s (think the song “Night Shift”). And that’s something we can all do without.