Warm, sunny music full of unfamiliar colours.
Colin Buttimer 2008-01-14
Méta Méta is Yoruba for '3 By 3', Yoruba being the language spoken by 30 million people throughout West Africa. Méta Méta are a group whose mission is to celebrate Afro-Cuban religious songs and their accompanying dances. However, the group are not merely interested in presenting the music as a museum-like curiosity, but bring it to life via contemporary arrangements.
More than half of the tracks on this album feature the interplay of the three sacred bata drums of Cuban Santeria. These drums married to lead vocals and chorus on the opening two tracks, ...For Elegua and ...For Ogun, result in a striking impression that's both clatteringly noisy and satisfyingly energising. Next up, the brief ...For Inle unites bata drums and the saxes of Barak Schmool and Finn Peters.
...For Oya is more laidback, almost homespun, the bluesy twists and turns of Nick Ramm's piano make for a lithe partnership with Maurizio Ravalico's earthy, generous vocals. ...For Yemaya sounds more exotic, like something heard in an unfamiliar village, the whisper of foreign speech. ...For Ochun features lovely interplay between a string section and Finn Peters' darting flute. ...For Odudua is more subdued, almost funereal, but bluesy and spiritual like a deeply felt mourning. It might be a distant, long-lost cousin of Miles Davis' He Loved Him Madly.
This is warm, sunny music full of unfamiliar colours. Méta Méta's music makes for ideal medicine for short winter days and is a welcome new instalment in the story of Afro-Cuban jazz initiated by the likes of Chico O'Farrill and Dizzy Gillespie.