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> Mzansi, Listener Album Review
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Posted: 16-Oct-2013, 08:43 AM
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WOUER KELLERMAN IS WORLD-MUSIC FLUTIST WITH UNIQUE NEW AFRICAN CD OUT

WOUTER KELLERMAN (wouterkellerman.com)
MZANSI
Wouter Kellerman is a world-fusion musician which is unusual because he is a flute player. How unlikely is that? And he does not play wood or clay flutes from the wilds, but European-styled metal classical flutes (he is classically-trained). But he has merged his talents with a multi-cultural band from Africa that features Black vocalists, both male and female, both soloists and group choral singing. When you add a first-class band behind them, including a myriad of percussion and drum sounds throughout the album, the end result is a satisfying blend of African musical elements fused with hints of other international sounds, just what you would expect from a culturally-aware and world-touring group.

Even though Kellerman’s name is upfront and center, he definitely works with a band (everything I could find on-line indicated he uses many of these same players in concert). And the band is hot. Never flashy or arrogantly-distracting, but just solid and apparently joyous to be making good music together.

The album begins with the uptempo “African Hornpipes” that features a group of African singers just singing sounds while Kellerman plays a small, high-pitched Irish flute. “Malaika” is a pretty, light, mid-tempo tune with mellow flute, acoustic guitar, hand drums and female singing in Swahili. “Khokho” is a group of singers singing sounds like they were vocal percussionists (all rhythms and lots of fun!). “Mama Tembu” has a reggae groove, but lead vocals in the African Wolof language and female backing vocals sung in the Xhosa language. “Cape Flats,” “After Hours” and “Sylvia” are all slower, mellow tunes, mostly instrumental (with occasional mixed-down backing vocals) and lots of flute showcased.

“Mzansi,” the album title piece is mostly flute that ranges from mild to wild, but this pretty, upbeat piece also has some background singers and rapid percussion. “In The Moment” is a midtempo flute solo that includes some rhythmic scat singing or percussive wind bursts forced into the flute midst the regular flute notes so he is playing the melody and adding rhythm too. The final song, “Miniamba,” starts mellow, but becomes upbeat with a male lead vocalist backed by children and also featuring flute, acoustic guitar and light drums.

From beginning to end this is a very pleasant and fun-to-listen-to album. Even though virtually every song has some sort of singing on it, the energy, passion and frolicsome nature of the music makes it so that an English-speaking listener hardly notices that the singing is not in English. Much of it is wordless sound-singing, which is universal in nature, and the rest is sung in five different African languages which will almost sound wordless to the non-African-speaking listener. So sit back and enjoy one of the most enjoyable world-music albums to arrive in some time.


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