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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Sola Akingbola

By Robert Kaye
Published June 6, 2008

Routes To Roots: Yoruba Drums From Nigeria
ARC Music

Every so often an album commands our attention and respect, and Solá Akingbolá’s solo debut is a prime example. The Nigerian-born percussionist’s main gig is with the chart-topping, globe-trotting U.K. dance band Jamiroquai, but he found the time to make a traditional Yoruba drumming-inspired album with the help of a talented stable of musicians. Akingbolá writes and plays with exceptional depth and emotion—he composed, arranged and produced most of the 11 songs here with instrumentation that mostly consists of hand drums, percussion and vocals. Tracks such as “Ninu Opon Ori Tiwa,” and “Kulumbu Yeye” show off not only his ensemble’s nimble musicianship, but equally important, his songwriting artistry. Simply put, every track on this disc is a standout, even if some of them are vignettes of three minutes or less. The more you listen, the more you hear, making Routes To Roots truly an aural expedition worth exploring many times over.