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CD REVIEW:Adam Solomon & Tikisa – Mti Wa Maisha (Tree of life)
By Francesco Emmanuel - 06/26/2006 - 07:31 PM EDT

Artist: Adam Solomon & Tikisa
Album: Mti Wa Maisha (Tree of life)
CD Review: There’s this amazing African blues guitar player I see in the subways stops of Toronto all the time. His name is Adam Solomon. He just stands there, playing, totally engrossed in his art form, people pass by, some stop, most just rush on, too busy to notice this genius at work. That’s how it is in a big city, most geniuses go unnoticed, and some get stifled by rules and conformity.

But not Adam, he just keeps on playing, smiling, his fingers moving at lightning speed, up and down the fretboard he goes. He came to Canada some twelve years ago from Kenya, and has made Toronto his home. His music speaks for itself. He has recorded previous work with his band Tikisa and has done his own solo releases as well.

Last year he won a Juno for his collaboration on CBC records’ African Guitar Summit, a phenomenal piece of work between himself and many fellow African guitar players.
The next day or so, he was back again in the subways, just smiling and playing.

This year, Adam released Mti Wa Maisha (Tree of Life), and what a great album it is. Adam starts with an a capella opening number, his voice is strong and calm, ‘Mapendo’ is a song of lost love, short and bittersweet, then he delves right into ‘Rehema’ a track so indicative of Adam’s unique style of playing, a style first pioneered by Henri Bowane and Nico Kasanda. The album just sores to new heights track after track.

Rhythmically, this album contains songs featuring 6/8 Chakacha beat, Fiesta, Mdundiko, Soukous and traditional a capellas sung in Swahili.

Adam does an excellent job of combining guitar traditions of the 1960s with modern East African sounds from Congo, Tanzania and Kenya. This he melds with lyrics from Mombasa to create a style known as Afro-Soul Rhumba.

His guitar tone is so warm and subtle, with just the perfect amount of delay added to give each note played a certain degree of individuality and presence. The entire album is very well produced, with no instrument overpowering one another, but again Adam’s voice and playing is the core here.

Be sure to check out songs like ‘Unajifanya’ and ‘Afrobeat/G8’ which is Adam’s call to AIDS/HIV awareness in Africa, it is his plea to the nations of this world to help stop this horror from happening. So even though this album gets you to your feet, it should also have you thinking about what really matters in this life, and that is mankind matters.

It is written that Adam’s music comes from ‘Kaya’ a sacred place where we all belong. I for one truly love to hear Adam play, whenever I’m rushing off to catch a subway, he always makes me slow down, I just have to pay my respects to a great man and a phenomenal musician.


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