Louis Mhlanga: Shamwari (2001)
Mhlanga's music on Shamwari echoes a sense of joy and blissful relaxation. When the other players get a chance to solo (as on "Afrika Ya Uya," where bassist Denny Lalouette steps forward), they respect and extend an uplifting spirit. Most of the time, though, Mhlanga keeps his guitar work at the forefront. Occasionally indulgent in the tired cliches of fusion and contemporary jazz, the guitarist does not follow a pure path. But his efforts to bring together the spirit of improvisation with strongly textured structure draw upon a variety of influences. Light funk, Latin rhythms, and African patterning pervade Shamwari, punctuating the otherwise smooth fabric Mhlanga lays down on top. A fine effort from a player whose promiscuous involvement in theater and movie music, along with widespread production efforts, have earned him notoriety seeping outside the African continent.
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Track Listing: Hona Ka; Beira; Afrika Ya Uya; What Happened to Love?; Distant Lover; Chifamba; Kugarisana Nevamwe Zvakanaka; Shamwari; Take Me; Dzembira.
Personnel: Louis Mhlanga: guitars, vocals; Andile Yenana: piano, keyboards; Denny Lalouette: electric bass; Basi Mahlasela: percussion; Elhadgi Diop: percussion; Sello Montwedi: drums; Herbie Tsoaeli: electric bass (7,10); Rob Watson: drums (1,4); Nomsa Magwaza: vocals (3,6,7); Sipho Nkosiyani: vocals (3,6,7).
Record Label: Sheer Sound
Style: Fringes of Jazz