Na Lengo


Not so long ago, with Mississippi to Sahara, Faris brought ten rural delta blues songs back to their roots in West Africa, and the result was a segueing of two separate worlds with his distinctive guitar style known as assouf.

Na Lengo, in a similar vein, is also an experiment in fusion, but between Europe and Africa, specifically the indisputable and idiosyncratic styles of African singer Denis Inyani and Spanish guitarist Gerard Guse.

Na Lengo with Ingoma has given birth to a dozen original tracks, with all the lyrics by Inyani, which amount to a relaxed and sunny fusion of jazz, flamenco, Western pop and African jazz-reggae.

On Songs like Elimu, Asante and Mkuki, there is a seamless continuity to the hybrid experiments, which, despite Walter Quintus’ light production, maintain a serrated edge, courtesy of brilliant guitar and bass from Guse and Matias Migues.

Both musicians live in Ibiza, and it shows, because the writing and the arrangements – check Tuliza and Njo Mbele – are a tapestry of multi-cultural influences, but at all times there is cohesion of the temperament and traditions of several cultures.

Based on the harmony and the friendship of the principal collaborators, mixed with half a dozen superb musicians ( Sergio Gimenez and David Romano), you can readily understand why Ingoma is a confluence between two neighbouring continents driven by harmony, friendship and a unique take on music.

Within the jazzy harmony, there is a plenitude of space for twists and turns in the arrangements (Lala Salama), driven by the percussion, and the overall listening quality owes much to the acoustic resonance of the instruments.




Winter Endless, as befits one of the stalwarts of the Taiwanese indie music scene, from which they emerged in 2001, is going to be unlike anything else you have heard this year.

The presentation is fabulous: three individual CDs (Winter Endless, Ode to Winter and Live in Nalep) are accompanied in a box with a no expense spared 28 page booklet.

The 12 compositions on CD 1, opening with Violently Sad and Beautiful and closing with Must Keep Singing, are repeated on Disc 3,  a Blue Ray DVD. Segueing both, and for me the highlight, is CD 2 (Yu Chi Kung  – piano concerto), in which Ode to Winter is made up of seven compositions, and the pediment of Cold Star, Weird Cat and Four Seasons rests comfortably on the columns of Allegro Moderato, Adagio, Allegro con anima and Allegro con brio – Allegro Maestoso.

Sodagreen intend to make four albums representing the four seasons, recorded in four cities and with four different musical styles. Winter Endless was labelled The Vivaldi project and was recorded in Berlin.

Before turning to Ode To Winter, which is beautiful, and mostly un-Sodagreen like, you have to luxuriate in the non-classical, almost garage band like Violently Bad and Beautiful Set, whose titles wouldn’t be out of place as chapters in a Fuminori Nakamura novel: My Accusation of a Crazy Killer, The Dream of Going Back to Chernobyl, etc.

Violently Sad and Beautiful is a summation of all that is great about Sodagreen: pop meets classical, confident bass and percussion and a voice with the revolutions of a delirious swallow at the end of its odyssey. Anybody remember Poi Dog Pondering’s Natural Thing. That same fluidity across the disciplines.

Apparently, the classical Ode To Winter is inspired by the Violently Sad and Beautiful songs, but I didn’t easily make the connection. Instead, the mellifluous sorrowfulness and bursts of gaiety of Vivaldi’s Winter from The Four Seasons, with nods to Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus and Era, permeate what is still compelling listening: a piano concerto for our age, and not another’s.

Eyolf Dale



Eyolf Dale


It is reported that when George Avakian brought Miles Davis and Gil Evans together in 1956 for the Miles Ahead sessions, he wanted ‘Miles’ sound’  against shifting colours in a variety of rhythms and tempos.

What Avakian had in mind with the nonet  was the possibility of two sides of the one coin: the compression of sound, or its expansion with the addition of extra instruments.

Evans’ genius as a producer/arranger – remarkable considering the vinyl only releases back then -was to score bridges between compositions. This wasn’t, however, the duo at their full plenitude, which would follow, but the template of experimenting with tempos and subtle alterations in composition was set.

That sense of a large canvas of sweeping sound, the skeleton of nature painted as music, leaps from Eyolf Dale’s simply wonderful Wolf Valley, and for me there are echoes of what Davis and Evans were attempting in their formative collaboration.

When less was more with Evans and Davis, a band as large as a nontet could sound like a quartet, and although the feel of an octet is omnipresent throughout Wolf Valley, the pitch is sufficiently cleared to enjoy Dale’s skills as pianist and composer, and from Furet to The Walk, his dexterity as ensemble player and sensitive interpreter is never in doubt.

Consider Shostachoral, just three tracks in, a rearranged organ chorale from his solo album, Hometown Interludes, drifting from nowhere like a dawn over a harbour until tenor sax and clarinetist  Andrew Roligheten takes it in his talons and soars. Stunning.

Fernanda, which opens with vibraphonist Rob Waring shedding notes like wind fallen apple blossoms, was conceived in Oslo but its pulse is universal: Dale constructs pictures with his compositions, and also a soul-infused nostalgia, which permeates  Teglstein.

Eyolf Dale – pianist, composer, arranger, leader – is a virtuoso who is probably at his most lightest indulging in free improvisation, so there is, naturally, that big band sound and swing and joie de vivre in the quite wonderful The Creek.

Dale believes that the octet is the ideal platform for his compositional skills, and Wolf Valley, a play on his name, is a sonic soundscape with a strong classical technique. Notable performances too from bassist Per Zanussi and Gard Nilssen on drums.