King" Sunny Adé (born Sunday Adeniyi, 22 September 1946) is a Nigerian musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and a pioneer of modern world music. He has been classed as one of the most influential musicians of all time.
Quite possibly the most beautiful and influential West African record ever released internationally, Juju Music remains a revelation. With a phalanx of electric guitars that functions like a percussion section, and talking drums that sound like a gossipy Greek chorus, Nigerian juju star King Sunny Ade and His African Beats, all 20 of them, proved that African music could be as complex, dramatic, and symphonic as any European ensemble. Some thanks must go to French producer Martin Meissonier, who took the basic elements of Ade's sound–unison guitars, Yoruban drumming, seamless song medleys, and self-reflexive lyrics–and added a diverse assortment of Jamaican production techniques to heighten, deepen, and psychedelicize a sound that, with Ade's deliciously sweet vocals and the haunting strains of Demala Adepoju's Hawaiian steel guitar, was plenty wild to begin with. A masterpiece
A cerebral soul-jazz trio gives up some art and some funk with guest horn players and guitarist Marc Ribot. They call it "Shuck It Up," and rightly so, since they're neither as dissonant nor as ironic as many of their peers playing around downtown New York City. But that doesn't explain why these three don't swing as hard playing Monk, Coltrane, and King Sunny Ade as they do laying down their own earnest grooves and dismantling Bob Marley for mixing up with the Monk. Whether it's insecurity, indifference, or the physical chops they haven't developed to match their minds is for demanding listeners to decide. Or else it's all the same dilemma and will go away with time, just like the band's slow tunes.
Among American audiences, Manu Dibango is best known for "Soul Makossa," a highly infectious blend of African music, soul-funk, and jazz that became a major pop hit in the early '70s. The African artist revisited his signature tune on 1994's Wakafrika, which boasts an all-star cast that includes Peter Gabriel as well as Haiti's Papa Wemba and African heroes Ladysmith Black Mambazo, King Sunny Ade, and Youssou N'Dour. With such a stellar bunch of guests, Wakafrika should have been outstanding instead of simply decent.
For those needing a reminder of Cole's very original and expert piano playing, this 18-track roundup of some of his best instrumentals should fit the bill. Part of Capitol's three-volume series of Cole's classic trio sides (the other two cover the vocals), The Best of the Nat King Cole Trio includes gem after gem from the group's 1943-1949 prime and features the classic lineup that included guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Johnny Miller. With Cole and Moore seamlessly blending lines throughout, the group forged the standard for many a piano trio to follow by way of classics like "Jumpin' at Capitol," "Sweet Georgia Brown," and "These Foolish Things"…
It might strike as a paradox, but sometimes the brilliance of certain inventions can be measured by how obvious, how commonplace they seem. The music of Venezuelan pianist Silvano Monasterios is so easy-on-the-ear, so elegantly structured, and has such a casual, lived-in feel that it takes a bit to catch on to how sophisticated his work truly is. It's only after awhile that one notices the harmonic turns, the storytelling soloing, or his rhythmic vocabulary, especially his discreet use of traditional Venezuelan styles. Partly Sunny is Monasterios' second album for Savant, and his choices suggest that he feels no need to accommodate any conventional expectations about how Latin jazz should sound.