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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Richard Bona

By James Rodgers
Published September 18, 2008

Bona Makes You Sweat - Live

While Camaroonian bassist Richard Bona’s first live disc may not truly make you sweat, at least a few of the tracks should make you wipe your brow.  His band (featuring keyboardist Etienne Studwijk, drummer Ernesto Simpson, percussionist Samuel Torres, trumpeter Taylor Haskins, and guitarist John Caban) plays as tight and together as any of James Brown’s groups, stopping and starting in unison.  Bona mixes world music, Latin rhythms, and jazz into an energetic amalgam that is highly contagious, especially when topped with his smooth, quavering tenor voice.  You may not understand the words (most aren’t in English), but the emotions are easily translatable.  With nice touches like his tribute to bandleader and former boss Joe Zawinul, or the looped vocal tricks of “Samaouma,” Bona has the audience and the listener squarely in his pocket as the album builds to a triumphant finish.