The album's opening track, "Yekeke," sets a high standard with Etkin's clarinet and Kouyate's balafon soaring like birds playing in a spring breeze. The rest of the album varies, sounding here like improvisational jazz with unusual instrumentation, and there like traditional West African tunes subtly updated. And then there's Etkin's unique Africanized version of Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing." I'm still marveling at the naturalness of this album, and how beautifully in sync the musicians are in integrating their diverse backgrounds into a seamless whole. Might as well just stick this in the CD player and leave it on "repeat" for the next month or two. It's that enjoyable.
[mp3] Oran Etkin:
from the album Kelenia (street date June 9)
More Oran Etkin: