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Lionel Loueke: Karibu

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On their third album together (and first for Blue Note), guitarist Lionel Loueke, who hails from Benin, West Africa, Hungarian drummer Ferenc Nemeth and Swedish/Italian bassist Massimo Biolcati deliver a set of exquisitely played songs that largely lay flat until guests Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter inject some life into them. It’s not that the core trio lacks talent-not by any means. Loueke’s lines are smartly formed and deftly executed. His ear-friendly melodicism draws both from traditional African sources and a lifetime of closely studying the likes of Jim Hall and George Benson, and his rhythmic shifts come quickly and packed with surprises. Biolcati especially is a proactive player, and Nemeth’s skipping, airy touch injects the proceedings with a worldliness one would expect from such an international cast.

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