CD and live review: Antonio Forcione – Sketches of Africa

Antonio Forcione – Sketches of Africa
(ANTASTIC LTD B008QXLC14. Review by Rod Fogg)

Guitarist-composer Antonio Forcione has a new album out this month entitled Sketches of Africa. It is his first for five years and reflects inspiration drawn from visits to Africa and collaborations with local musicians. In support of the album he has just completed a four night residency at the Pizza Express in Dean Street, and will also be back there, for a five-night residency from December 7th-11th.

The live band features Forcione on nylon and steel string guitars, Adriano Adewale on percussion, Matheus Nova on acoustic bass guitar and Jenny Adejayan on cello. Nova plays world music with a healthy injection of funk, while Adewale produces a grooving mix of hand percussion thuds and rattles together with conventional drum and cymbal sounds.

The cello is not exactly a common instrument either in jazz or world music, but Adejayan plays a pivotal role in this band, stridently doubling the guitar melody or adding lively, rhythmic ostinati, while sometimes producing earthy, resonant drones evocative of the plains of Africa itself.

As for Forcione, it is fascinating to hear the way he gradually ramps up the level of virtuosity; his guitar parts are always complex combinations of simultaneous melody and accompaniment, but as the tempos gradually quickened through the performance his exuberant soloing became the focal point of the music, to the enthusiastic approval of both his fellow performers and the audience.

Much of the music performed can be found on the new album, which understandably has a cooler, more restrained vibe then the live gigs. It also allows a broader palette of tones and textures, with tracks which feature layered guitars (including 12 string), flugelhorn, kora and vocals.

Forcione is a unique performer, a master of the guitar and an explorer of new ground between existing cultures. Seek him out – your ears and your soul will thank you.

Categories: miscellaneous

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