The One & The Many (Warner Jazz, 2011)
Fans looking for a jazzy take on world music should look no further than Muntu Valdo’s The One & The Many. Back for another pass from his 2005 release Gods & Devils, Mr. Valdo, a Sawa of Cameroon, is indeed back with his ingenious version of the Sawa blues. Sharply worked and cleverly crafted, Mr. Valdo makes the most of his guitar and harmonica sound, surrounding it with a sizzling swirl of loops and catchy percussion. Mr. Valdo’s music and vocals float in on a West African breezy coolness that is fluid and seductive.
Opening with the sultry “Ate Aye,” Mr. Valdo’s guitar work and vocals sails in on a sound that seems to ride that soothes the senses. Tracks like “Lemba” and “Miengu” capture that bright and breezy West African feel with opening dashes of environmental sounds that add some flavor.
The silky and sultry vocals on “Ma Ding Wa” against a heavily percussive composition make this a stand out track, just as the guitar and vocals of the fiery “Musseing” work with its driving rhythms and flashes of harmonica. Other treats on the One & The Many include the plucky, bluesy number “Timba,” the spare, elegantly crafted “Djongo” and the dazzlingly “Ngombi Na Nganga.”
Mr. Valdo’s clever flair, playing with the essence of both the spare and the intricate, make The One & The Many a true treat to discover.