The Cameroonian multi-instrumentalist Richard Bona is comfortable in just about any musical setting, from the smooth jazz stylings of Bob James, to being the musical direct…
The Cameroonian multi-instrumentalist Richard Bona is comfortable in just about any musical setting, from the smooth jazz stylings of Bob James, to being the musical director for Harry Belafonte, and, of course, his debut with the Zawinul Syndicate in the mid-90’s. On Reverence
, his second solo album, Bona’s ability to incorporate a mass of influences is sabotaged by an overly slick production that takes away from the songs, which have good structure and changes in tempo that perk the listener’s ear. It doesn’t help that Bona appears to want to be accessible to every listener. Which is a shame: He has talent to burn, but Reverence lacks a focus. Is it world music? Jazz? Fusion? Pop? The answer is none of these and yet all at the same time.
The production subtracts from the cool Afro-pop of "Bisso Baba" and the mambo inflections heard on "Ekwa Mwato". The song "Suninga" drowns in the weight of a saccharine string arrangement, while Pat Metheny basically collects his money for playing on the title track, his guitar work so uninspiring it makes one wonder why he’s held in such high regard. Bona would have been better off playing the guitar solo himself.