Kinobe at Toronto's Lula Lounge

Kinobe at Lula Lounge
Toronto, September 29, 2010
part of the Small World Music Festival

It feels like far too long since was away from Lula Lounge, one of my favourite live music venues anywhere, and I was looking forward to Kinobe's tour last spring when it was cancelled (due to a family emergency in his crew, I'm told). Needless to say I had a lot of anticipation for last night's concert.

Kinobe began the set alone playing the kalimba with a delicacy and virtuosity that was really amazing - and in the dictionary definition of the word, i.e. inspiring amazement, not the bland watered down version we use everyday.

"You play it like a video game," he said to laughter. "I'm serious!" he insisted. "With two thumbs, just like my PSP2."

Listing influences like Salif Keita, Peter Gabriel, Richard Bona, Joe Zawinul, Youssou Ndour, James Brown, Baba Maal, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Toumani Diabate, Manu Dibango, Bassekou Kouyate and more, the Ugandan native's style could be said to be truly Pan-African.

After Soulbeat Africa, being:

Daniel Settaba - drum kit or bass
Bakkabulinda Samuel - percussionist, vocals, spoken word
Sewagudde Richard - drums (he wrote the song in that last clip)
Akansiima Ivan  -acoustic guitar
Mugema Jimmy - drum kit or bass

joined him on stage, the music took on larger dimensions, the songs extended jams that never bordered into self indulgent territory.

At one point towards the end of the show, he did a solo on the kora. You can hear the mixture of East and West African tradition and contemporary sensibilities in the polyrhythmic textures, and while it all sounded impossibly complex, they danced and had fun with it on stage. A classic African soirée, in other words!