There is commendable ambition and skill behind this collaboration between Bokanté, the self-styled “super group” founded by Michael League of the New York jazz-funk outfit Snarky Puppy, and the renowned Dutch big band Metropole Orkest (active since 1945). League was inspired to form Bokanté to showcase the Guadaloupe-born singer Malika Tirolien, with whom he writes, most of their songs being delivered in Creole. Charismatic on stage, her vocals are supple, capable of both delicacy and force, and with hip-hop inflections.
For this second album, League has added cinematic heft to Bokanté’s melange of Caribbean, Middle Eastern and jazz influences, helped by the arrangements of the Orkest’s Jules Buckley. The opener All the Way Home booms cavernously (and clumsily); Réparasyons has swaying Turkish strings; and Don’t Do It comes spiced with a bank of saxes. Yet for all its instrumental cleverness (and League has become one smart oud player), it’s hard to discern the emotions being articulated. Most of the songs are righteous (“we have suffered but stood firm”, “we are ready to break all chains”), but their sentiments are oddly remote from the ever busy instrumentation; a case of too much on the plate.Continue reading...
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