Sunday, June 05, 2011

TONI XUCLA and SOLO KOUYATE - Duna (Temps Records)

A meeting of Casamance and Catalonia that at its best puts one somewhat in mind of the Songhai meetings between Spanish group Ketama and Toumai Diabaté. Xuclà’s 12-string guitar is perhaps not quite as briskly attacked as those of the flamenco band but it’s certainly sympathetic to Solo’s playing, sometimes mirroring the rhythms, at others dancing in and out of the solos. Some fine bass playing from the Spaniard too, taking the rhythmic strain as Solo embarks on flights of melody fancy. The main reservation is the choice of songs, which seem on the conservative side as, perhaps no more than a summation of the duo’s original jams when they first met in Senegal with a handful of new numbers bolted on. It’s always nice to hear new versions of Miniamba and Jarabi, but these are quite standard interpretations. A bit more of Mari Sadio’s jaunty, playful reworking would have enlivened proceedings. However, the handful of original compositions is generally well-worked making this a highly promising debut by a duo to watch out for.

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