African Guitar Summit II

African Guitar Summit II
African Guitar Summit’s fusion is one that could only have happened in Canada. With a mixture of guitarists hailing from across sub-Saharan Africa, and residing throughout Canada, only a national broadcaster with a record label division might have been able to justify the concept and the cost of bringing together these performers from across Canada. Their first album was a miracle of compromise and teamwork: each guitarist is a lead voice in their own right, and they work with disparate styles that might otherwise seem irreconcilable. After scooping the 2005 World Music Juno and appearing at Live 8 in Barrie, they are back for another disc. II follows up on the first disc with much the same "formula.” Minutes are carefully doled out to each, and styles from high life to Malagasy soul to soukous are carried off effortlessly. There is endless guitar inventiveness both urgent and gentle, and it’s always smoothly complimentary to its surroundings. If there is a criticism, it is that there is too much balance. The production is inoffensive to a fault: everyone can be heard, the fusion is well served. But at a certain point one wishes for a bit more bass, or for the mix to be more imaginative. But this is another admirable team effort, even more so than the first disc.

How did African Guitar Summit come together? Vocalist Theo Yaw Bokaye: It came together in 2004. Tod Fraracci, a producer for CBC, called me and said we’d be getting people together for a recording, but I didn’t know who. To be honest I wasn’t interested, come the day that everybody was supposed to meet I was still wasn’t. But when I got there I saw Alpha Yaya Diallo, Pa Joe, Madagascar Slim, Adam Solomon, Mighty Popo, Donne Robert, and I thought, "Holy smokes! These are some of the greatest African musicians in Canada!” We recorded the album in three days.

What was Live 8 like? It was awesome! There was this instance where we were going into a tent for an interview and we met this old man just standing there smiling. He said, "Can I take a picture of you guys?” and the guys said "Alright.” Then I turned to them afterwards and said, "Do you know who that was? Gordon Lightfoot!” We should have taken a picture with him!

How is the second album different than the first? The first time around was like getting to know each other. Everybody was sizing each other up, with just a little bit of tension, but then it simmered down. [Since then] we’ve been touring and it’s been great. So the second time around, we were relaxed and we gave it our all. Everybody went deep in their souls to bring it out. (CBC)