Afro-soul vocalist Florence Chitacumbi
Afro-soul vocalist Florence Chitacumbi

CHITACUMBI – CINÉLU SA REUNION TOUR. With Florence Chitacumbi, Mino Cinélu, Nduduzo Makhathini, Christophe Bovet, Tony Cedras. At Slowlife, Olympia Bakery, Cape Town, South Africa, 4 May, 2019.

JANE MAYNE reviews

Longstanding musical partnerships allow players to reap the fruits of shared aesthetic terrain, and such is obviously the case with the alliance of Florence Chitacumbi and Mino Cinélu. They have a relaxed, easy onstage rapport, and it’s immediately clear that both performers can excel on any international stage.

Together they have one helluva pedigree – with associations the likes of Weather Report, Miles Davis, Marcus Miller and Herbie Hancock for Cinélu; and Pierre Drevet, N’Doumbe Djengue and more for Swiss-Angolan composer Chitacumbi.

So with this in mind it was somewhat of a disappointment that the original material for this, their final concert of the Chitacumbi – Cinélu SA Reunion Tour in South Africa, failed to challenge on a cerebral level, or offer any profound emotive value.

Florence Chitacumbi and Mino Cinélu Reunion Tour
Florence Chitacumbi and Mino Cinélu

Both are clearly weighty artistes capable of achieving intense creative highs, so it appeared as though the specific compositions chosen for the showcase lacked the geometry to make them hugely impactful.

Ultimately, the works left one kind of grappling to find the content – so to speak. Numerous other concert-goers echoed much the same sentiment.

Mino Cinélu – understated mastery

That said, Mino Cinélu in particular has contributed to heady fusion with some of the world’s best, and the man is a joy to watch both visually and in terms of his technical skills.

He projects an understated mastery which effortlessly fills the holes a full drum kit would produce – and mostly just using cajon, eggs and triangle. These humble instruments may not sound like much, but tonally Cinélu’s control and expression on the cajon in particular are impressive. Just a pity he didn’t do a major show-off solo to illustrate the breadth of his awesome percussive techniques.

Adding colour to Chitacumbi’s Afro-soul reflections on topics such as the plight of refugees and girls fleeing forced marriages, were guitarist Christophe Bovet and local pianist Nduduzo Makhathini. And another welcome addition to the stage was accordion player Tony Cedras, whose presence contributed a slight energetic lift to the production.

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What: Chitacumbi – Cinélu SA Reunion Tour concert 2019