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Annonce Goooogle
Annonce Goooogle

Album review

Gino Sitson

Way To Go


13/05/2009 - 

In the past, Cameroonian jazzman Gino Sitson has divided his albums between a cappella songs and orchestrated tracks. On his new album, Way To Go, Sitson has chosen to put his long-time quartet centre stage, performing material he developed in close collaboration with his musicians.

When Way To Go opens with double bass, piano and drums accompanying vocals, one has to resist the urge to label Gino Sitson's new album "classic New York jazz". But that would be forgetting that the man who is singing is capable of covering four octaves! Sitson, a former drummer turned singer, draws on the broadest range of influences in his work, seeking inspiration in Marvin Gaye songs, Gregorian chants and, of course, traditional Cameroonian music.

Sitson could have chosen to wow listeners with stunning vocal acrobatics, but he insists his priority lies elsewhere on Way To Go. "It's the melodies and the harmonies that are important to me here; the rhythm just adds a bit of extra colour", says the singer who has often been compared to the great American jazzman Bobby McFerrin (who invited Sitson to guest on stage with him at New York's Carnegie Hall last year).

The majority of the songs on Way To Go are written in Medumba (a language spoken by the Bamileke in Cameroon), but Sitson does not always believe in putting his feelings into words. He frequently chooses to "devisualise" the images that surge through his head, translating them into onomatopoeia and pure sound. This is the case on Peaceful Journey, a song dedicated to his father as is Daddy, an instrumental track on which Sitson plays the sanza (the traditional thumb piano) which his father gave him before he died. Perhaps because his father's death was such a recent event, Way To Go has turned out to be very much a family affair with other songs dedicated to Sitson's daughter (Lucia) and his mother (Magny Marcelline). 

Sitson could easily have invited a host of major jazz stars to guest on Way To Go (as he did on his album Bamisphere back in 2006), but here too he seems to have preferred the notion of 'family ties', working with the quartet he has been playing with ever since he arrived in the U.S. There is evident camaraderie and complicity between Sitson, pianist Helio Alves, drummer Willard Dyson and double bass player Lonnie Plaxico (who also works as musical director for the American singer Cassandra Wilson) and this adds an impressive sense of fluidity to Way To Go.

 Listen to an extract from Way to Go

Gino Sitson Way To Go (Alessa Records) 2009

Bertrand  Lavaine

Translation : Julie  Street