Oliver Mtukudzi: Tuku Music

A sense of rippling jubilation rises up from popular Zimbabwe veteran Oliver Mtukudzi’s stirring album, Tuku Music (Putamayo 152: 58:20). On some level, it comes off as agreeably feelgood African fare, both of the moment and yoked to African tradition and the tumbling cadences of the mbira. But the blithe surfaces-the friendly chatter of guitar parts, the call and responses between Tuku’s deep-voiced assertions and female background singers-are in a state of creative tension with lyrical themes addressing harsh human issues, infidelity, AIDS, and social friction. The infectious musical energy and bounty of melodic hooks keep the faith of a better way, while addressing human frailties. In the balance hangs music of substance and cheer.