Munto Valdo ‘The One and the Many’ (Warner Jazz) 4/5

This varied set from Cameroonian singer-songwriter, arranger, producer and recorder Munto Valdo reveals an eclectic approach to one-man music making that takes on board Brazilian, reggae, blues and myriad other influences. He has collaborated among others with Damon Albarn’s African Express and played in a live context with a host of African musicians including Ali Farka Toure. The totality of these experiences comes together in a cohesive whole here. In fact the use of harmonica on the instantly catchy ‘No mercy’ recalls Ismael Lo while elsewhere there are hints of Gilberto Gil in both the voice and the manner of playing the guitar. Blues are evoked on ‘Timba’ and there are lovely laid-back guitar and vocals on ‘Miengu’. Sound effects approximating a forest emerge on the pared down ‘Djongo’ complete with choir vocals all sung by Valdo himself. An uptempo number ‘Musseing’ impresses with its funk-infused bass line. Throughout the time signatures are quite unusual in structure and there is enough variety to keep one guessing as to what is happening next. Munto Valdo will be performing live in the UK from mid-May through June as opening act to the Ladysmith Black Mambazo tour. Slightly more to the rootsy side of world music than his compatriot Richard Bono, a promising future awaits the richly talented Munto Valdo.

Tim Stenhouse