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Somi - The Lagos Music Salon / The Jazz Breakfast review

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Somi is a singer and songwriter. She was born in Illinois to East African parents, and in 2011 she moved from New York to live and work in Lagos, Nigeria, for a while. This album is the result.

I've always loved West African music and thought there was much more potential to mix it up with jazz, but the "snobbishness" of the world music critics meant that such amalgams were frowned upon – I seem to remember some pretty sniffy responses when Salif Keita brought Joe Zawinul in to work on his album Amen. I'm not sure they would think much of this – far too slick, far too sophisticated! And, like Amen, rather good, actually.

It takes a certain kind of chutzpah to rework Fela Kuti's Lady – Somi calls it Lady Revisited and Anqelique Kidjo is a guest – and Nina Simone's Four Women – she calls it Four African Women. The many originals – this is a generously lengthy disc with 18 tracks – are immediately attractive and hook their way into the musical memory. Ankara Sundays and Ginger Me Slowly are  particularly seductive, and Akobi: First Born S(u)n is brimful of Afro-American sunshine. Still Your Girl has a great counter-intuitive piano/bass riff in amongst a lush arrangement. READ THE FULL Jazz Breakfast REVIEW.