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World Music CD Reviews Africa

BUKKY LEO AND BLACK

By Tom Orr
Published June 27, 2006

Afrobeat Visions
Mr. Bongo

The word “Afrobeat” in the title and the presence of Tony Allen on drums gives something of a clue as to what to expect from this disc, but the music is not all about the take-no-prisoners Afrobeat invented by Fela Kuti and kept strong by such bands as Antibalas. Nigerian saxophonist/vocalist Bukky Leo peps up these tracks with many a texture borrowed from acid jazz and vintage soul/funk as well. Still, his Afrocentricity is firmly in place. “I want to bring people back to Africa,” he states on the opening “Black Egypt,” crediting the Motherland as the birthplace of civilization. His viewpoint is a utopian one, picturing an end to all wars on “The Vision,” urging greater examination of individual conscience to answer the question “Why Can’t We Live Together” and not giving religion a prayer on “Secular Society.” The grooves, fueled by Allen’s dead-on drumming and laced with sharp electric piano, guitar and horn licks, bolster the common-man lyrics in fine style. Afrobeat lite perhaps, but strong in its own right.