Mighty Popo Muhazi

Mighty Popo Muhazi
Rwandan/Burundian Mighty Popo has had great success with Souljazz Orchestra and African Guitar Summit, which hopefully will give this fine album a bit of a push. Muhazi proves once again that the production of African music in Canada continues to make incremental progress in its expertise and vision. As with most Afro-Canadian records, a variety of rhythms from across Africa and beyond are on display. "Manu,” his tribute to legendary Cameroonian sax player Manu Dibango, is an upbeat hi-life track. The full, punchy mix of "Agasaza,” with a Junior Walker style sax solo in a Latin-esque horn arrangement, is another example of all the pieces coming together. The sensitive acoustic guitar ballads — an annoying adult contemporary feature of too many discs these days — are kept fresh with an atmospheric mix, as is the Afro-rumba "Imandwa.” Frequently, the mixing saves songs from sounding too dull. The highlights of this disc are two storming tunes: the nasty funk of "Nyirabisabo,” which kicks up a fine six/eight skank, and the dense polyrhythms of "Asante.” Ten years ago, this track’s complex percussion interplay would have been blitzed in reverb but we’ve come a long way since then. Muhazi fulfils Popo’s purpose of being defined not just as a Rwandan/Burundian refugee but as part of the constellation of African musicians in Canada striving towards an inclusive sound. (Tamba)