JazzViews


Picture

IVAN MAZUZE -  Moya

Losen: LOS209-2
 
Ivan Mazuze: saxophones, flute, hand claps, percussion, vocals; Olga Konkova: piano, Rhodes; Bjorn Vidar Solli: guitar; Per Mathisen: bass; Raciel Torres: drums; Hanne Tvester: vocal; Ibou Cissokho: kora; Sidiki Camara: percussion, talking drums, calabash; Sanskriti Shretsha: tablas, vocals. 
Recorded August 2018 by Giert Clausen at Fersk Lyd Studios, Oslo.
 
This CD follows ‘Ubunt’, in which Mazuze worked with a different line-up of musicians and produced music that I thought displayed “…a sophisticated mastery of song forms which put simple, elegant harmonies over shifting rhythmic patterns”.  If anything, his compositions have become even more engaging on this outing; indeed, he manages the difficult act of balancing complex rhythmic and harmonic ideas with immediately accessible melodies.   The set opens with a mournful reflection on the plight of the displaced Rohingya people, with piano and sax providing a moving, gentle waltz against mixed percussion.

The title track of this album is a duet between Mazuze and Konkova. As Mazuze says in the liner notes, the  word ‘moya means souls, wind and a connection in a spiritual context, which for me simply means a search for musical sounds’ .  It is word from the Xichangana language of Mazuze’s native Mozambique.  Certainly the sense of ‘moya’ as a soulful connection and search for musical sounds is delicately expressed in the interaction between sax and piano here.  There is, in Konkova’s sinuous piano lines a response Mazuze’s haunting saxophone, which combine into a piece that calls to mind a host of modern classical compositions.  That this piece is immediately followed by, ‘Lunde’,  a sprightly take on Norwegian folk-music (which, nevertheless, manages to incorporate a bass line that nods to Afro-beat) shows the breadth of musical styles in which Mazuze shows consummate skill and ease in playing.  Elsewhere, the music takes in styles that reflect the Congolese pop of Papa Wemba, track 6, ‘Wemba Wa’,  West African rhythms in track 8, ‘Griot’, and a tribute to Mali in track 7, ‘Nchisi’.   Mazuze has assembled a fine group around him and the bass playing of Mathisen (who swaps some of his harder jazz-funk lines for some convincing Afro-beat rhythms), the guitar playing of Solli and piano playing of Konkova are, as you’d expect, all on point and delightful.  This is, I think, my first encounter with Cuban drummer Raciel Torres and he ignites each piece with his intensity.  But across all the pieces what shines above all of the marvellous playing by his bandmates in the verve and harmonic invention of Mazuze.  


Reviewed by Chris Baber