Biakuye (translation: unity) is a small ensemble dedicated to playing a world and ethnic fusion of African percussion music welded to the improvisational aspects of jazz, and where the former far outweighs the latter, the result is accessible to both camps. They actually go beyond into minimalist music, which, in the case of the influence of Steve Reich, brings the music back to the African roots Reich was inspired by. Chicago percussionists Mark Stone and Roger Braun play a variety of marimbas, the mbira, hand percussion, and drum kit, while Kofi Ameyaw from Ghana plays even more exotic percussion, and Issa Sall from Senegal rounds out the group on the only non-percussion instrument, electric bass guitar. The wooden sound of the marimba and the endongo, or balafon, is the most potent sound, played primarily by Stone or Ameyaw, and the 6/8 time signature is the favored rhythm, as heard on half the CD. They are heard best in fleet, playful discourse during the traditional "Twalibamukwano," the ritualistic and bright "Fume Fume," and "Kyebukube," all featuring typical vocal chants. Subtle cross-polyrhythmic forces work underneath the main melody lines and straight beats of 4/4 on "Mundondo," and a very quick 6/8 time dealt in contrapuntal fashion informs the quick, metal vibraphone led "Nana Yaa." A berimbau played by Stone, accenting Sall's lead bass, pilots a different sounding "Tacho," written by Brazilian Hermeto Pascoal.
There's a take on Don Cherry's "Mopti," originally done when Cherry was with Old & New Dreams that is modified into 5/4 from the original 6/8 that doesn't work as well and sounds a bit forced. Overall, this is a pleasant, in many instances exuberant example of contemporary jazz influenced music bringing it back to Mother Africa, where it originally came from.
|Twalibamukwano / Traditional||Biakuye Percussion Group||7:42|
|Mopti||Biakuye Percussion Group||7:35|
|Amagombe||Biakuye Percussion Group||5:58|
|Tacho / Hermeto Pascoal||Biakuye Percussion Group||8:25|
|Naamwin Nu Tom / Bernard Woma||Biakuye Percussion Group||5:28|
|Fume Fume / Traditional||Biakuye Percussion Group||4:58|
|Nana Yaa / Mark Stone||Biakuye Percussion Group||4:55|
|Nifaa Bie / Bernard Woma||Biakuye Percussion Group||3:31|
|Kyebukube / Traditional||Biakuye Percussion Group||5:58|
|Mudondo / Traditional||Biakuye Percussion Group||6:14|