The sounds of Africa are taken to a new level with the debut album by Bones & Tones, a group featuring Warren Smith (vibraphone & percussion), Jaribu Shahid (bass & percussion), Lloyd Haber (marimba, bells & percussion), and Abdou Mboup (percussion, vocals, and kora). It would loosely be considered jazz only because it’s more organized and structured, so don’t expect the freedoms of indigenous music even though the so-called “world” qualities are in this. What I like about this is that it takes the listener to places as if it’s a walk through history, and one that is meant to allow you to understand and feel the people of these different lands. Some of this is arranged very well to where it might be used for movie soundtracks, or even something like a Super Mario video game. That might sound like I’m giving Bones & Tones a backhand, but I say this with sincerity. Some of it sounds like the perfect video game music, or what you expect to hear when you turn on your Wii. It may sound basic at first but as you begin to listen, it’s its simplicity that helps make it work. I found Shahid’s bass work to be damn good too, especially in “228”, and if the name is familiar, then your taste in jazz would make you enjoy this album just as much as his previous work. Mboup, Haber, and Smith have also worked with everyone from Sam Rivers, Ornette Coleman, and Joe Zawinul to Aretha Franklin and The Talking Heads, so these are people who know very well what they’re doing. Now find out what they’re doing together, in musical unity.
(The debut from Bones & Tones will be released on March 1st.)