Concord Nkabinde: This Is My World (2006)
Known to American music fans as the bassist for figures like Johnny Clegg, Concord Nkabinde established his credentials as a solo artist in 2004 with the highly successful Drocnoc release The Time, The Season, which he has followed up with This Is My World.
On his debut album, Nkabinde demonstrated himself to be a sensitive songwriter and superb bassist whose musical interests spanned many genres and continents. On This Is My World, he continues in this vein. For many artists, this approach can lead into some painful world beat excursions, but Nkabinde is too creative a musician to fall into such traps, instead writing intricate songs, surrounding himself with similarly top-notch musicians and taking unique risks in the music.
On most of the album's songs, Nkabinde likes to work in an R&B/Afropop setting, and certainly composes compelling works in these styles, ranging from bouncing works like "Ko hae/Hayani to the darker-sounding "My Paradise. Fun standout tracks here are "Umoya wami" and "He-Zo-We," where Nkabinde channels Victor Wooten and sings while accompanying himself with funky slap bass.
However, he shines when he opts to stretch out of this comfort zone, diving into Zulu styles such as the acoustic guitar-driven maskanda, as on "Siyakuding'Isizwe, or the bouncing mbaqanga styles of "Are You Ready for the Main Course, featuring the ever-amazing guitarist Louis Mhlanga. The album's most fascinating moment, however, is the musical fusion he accomplishes in "Truly, Truly Truly, which blends traditional Chinese music and the zither with a Zulu chorus. It's a risky and odd-sounding move, but the sonic results are marvelous.
With This Is My World, Nkabinde continues on his unique musical path, straddling many styles and challenging his songwriting, singing and bass playing abilities. He may not yet be known as a solo artist in the United States, but this is a young and charismatic rising star to keep an eye and an ear out for. He's proven to have marvelous music in him.
Note: This album is available at One World on the web.
Track Listing: Ko hae/Hayani; Afrika; My Paradise; Umoya wami; Song of forgiveness; Are you ready for the main course; Yes we are ready for the main course; Truly, Truly, Truy; Emzansi; What goes around comes around; Cul'ingoma Afrika; Esta noche/Lobubusuku; Siyakuding'isizwe; Ilanga; He-Zo-We; Anginanto esandleni; The declaration.
Personnel: Maduvha Madima, Busi Khoza, Steven Molakeng, Tamara Dey, Philile, S'Nqobile Nkabinde: vocals; Concord Nkabinde: bass, vocals, keyboards, programming; Brendan Ross: saxophone; Louis Mhlanga: guitar; Fana Zulu: bass; Barry van Zyl: drums; Tlale Makhene: percussion; Nqubeko Mbatha: synths; Peter Auret: drum programming; Neil Gonsalves: piano; Andy Innes: guitar; Adam Howard: trumpet; Bez Roberts: trombone; Lili Feng: vocals and zither; Stanley Sello: fender rhodes; Rob Watson: drums.
Record Label: Drocnoc Music