Songlines (UK) – Album Review ★★★★

For years, bass player Teun Creemers has played behind illustrious West African artists like Harouna Samake (Salif Keita’s kamelengoni player) and Sekou Kouyate. However, he’s flown below the radar as bandleader, arguably because his career spans such a gamut of styles from punk jazz with the Spunk! group to Dutch jazz with De Raad Van Toezicht. This could all change with the release of Naamu, a refreshing dialogue between Creemers’ contemporary jazz compos and the traditional sounds from his numerous West African collaborators. This eight-track album started its journey in COVID-19-haunted July 2021 and features the luminous voice of Kankou Kouyaté – niece of Bassekou Kouyaté – whose warm and inspired vocals adorn Creemers’ dense compositions. The album features vibrant percussion and brass sections, as well as the assured presence of Harouna Samake on the kamelengoni and the slick kora of Sefoudi Kouyate. Sound engineer Sebastiaan van Bijlevelt guaranteed its faultless recordings at the Galloway Studio in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. It’s a complex exercise which avoids the traps of fusing such diverse music styles. Creemers leads the way with his guitar-like approach to bass playing. Naamu is thus a thoroughly enjoyable jaunt replete with earthy grooves and dazzling vocals.

Rating: ****

By Daniel Brown