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Gino Sitson: Bamisphere

Marcia Hillman By

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For his third solo album, Cameroonian vocalist Gino Sitson is joined by bassist Ron Carter, drummer Jeff "Tain Watts, bassist Essiet Essiet and pianist Helio Alves for twelve originals all sung in Medumba, a dialect of his native Bamileke language. Because of this, it is difficult to discern the meaning of each song but, according to the notes, the lyrics deal with subjects such as "discrimination, tolerance, friendship, freedom, simplicity.......and prayers for guidance. There are also lyrics that tell of more personal changes in Sitson's life such as the birth of his daughter and the death of his brother.

The CD highlights Sitson's four-octave range on emotionally rich performances that stretch the ordinary vocal vocabulary. On pieces such as the title track, "Bird, "Simplicity and "Bye, Sitson's lead voice is augmented by overdubbed miscellaneous vocal effects and backing vocals. "Leugdeu Monhzeu features Sitson's voice matched solely against a Carter bass figure.

As a composer, Sitson has been influenced by his African heritage and a diversity of other musics. "A Leuda Wou almost sounds like a French love song while "Todeu has a very Brazilian feel. The songs are mostly melodically simple, some resembling chants more than songs. They do, however, point up the rhythmic patterns of the music and the harmonies achieved by Sitson's vocal multi-tracking.

Sitson is of a "new generation of multi-culturally influenced African musicians who are integrating into their own musical styles the totality of their "living experience . It would be interesting to hear what he would do if he applied his vocal capabilities to some standard jazz material.

Track Listing: Bird; Wailin'; A Leuda Wou; Bamisphere; Massalo; Y Nole ?; Simplicity; Monhzeu; Aloga; Nzui Mantoh; Bye.

Personnel: Gino Sitson: vocals; Ron Carter: bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts; Essiet Essiet: bass; Helio Alves: piano.

Title: Bamisphere | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Polyvocal Records

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