Terra Nova

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Lokkhi Terra
Ronnie Scott’s, London

The warm glow of Ronnie’s 60th birthday celebrations of 2019 may be gently fading in the first few weeks of the new decade, but this is a welcome burst of heat for the rigours of ‘dry January.’ Led by keyboardist-composer Kishon Khan Lokkhi Terra is an inspired proposition, an encounter of Indian, Cuban and African musical traditions that creates a sound that is as refreshingly unfamiliar as it is reassuringly familiar.
In short, the clattering clavé rhythm to which all Latin fans are accustomed is often a rock solid foundation for the music while the input of shekere and sticks broadens the rhythmic palette to make for organic rather than any forced stylistic bridge building. Pieces such as Afro Sambroso are a perfect example of the flow of information but even more enchanting is the chemistry of vocalists Sohini Alam and Javier Camilo.
She sings in Bengali, he in Spanish, and the resonances are as rich as the individual character of each singer, symbolizing conversation beyond geographical as well as linguistic borders. With a three-piece percussion section, boasting the outstanding conguero Oreste Moda, as well as horns [arranged by trombonist Justin Thurgur], drummer Tansay Omar and guitarist Phil Dawson the band has the kind of weighty but mobile sound of Latin fusion greats Irakere, who it covers smartly later in the set.
However, Khan has been playing Afrobeat for many years – well before the recent vogue – and his tight grip on the music is felt by all on the arrival of one its masters, Nigerian pianist-vocalist Dele Sosimi. Their recent collaboration yielded the superlative album Cubafrobeat and as the two men sit side by side at their keyboards they gel powerfully on descargas in 5/4, just as the ensemble had previously negotiated them in a tantalizing, tripwire 13. The exchanges between the bongos, congas and bata are sizzling while Sosimi’s commanding delivery and avuncular humour are more than sufficient to set off a round of chair dancing in the front row.
Pic by Siobhan Bradshaw.

Kevin Le Gendre