Richard Bona, the Cameroonian singer, songwriter and bass player, will release a new album, Heritage, in the U.S. on Sept. 16, promoted by a U.S. tour starting in Boston on Sept. 2 and ending in Seattle Sept. 21.
Described by the Los Angeles Times as “an artist with Jaco Pastorious’s virtuosity, George Benson’s vocal fluidity, João Gilberto’s sense of song and harmony, all mixed up with African culture,” Bona has had an extensive career all across Europe and the U.S., and even in Japan. Born in Minta, Cameroon to a griot father and a singer mother, Bona developed a love of music early on, playing balafon and homemade flutes and guitars as a child. As a young teenager, he played at a jazz club in Douala, before moving to Europe to study music and work as a jazz musician in several French clubs. Bona then grew his reputation as a touring, studio, and featured musician for the likes of Harry Belafonte and Keiko Matsui. He later gained recognition as a solo musician, starting with the 1999 release, Scenes From My Life. Bona won the Best International Artist of 2004 trophy at the Victoires du Jazz Awards, and later received the SACEM Grand Prix du Jazz in 2012, prompting fans to dub him “The African Sting.” Heritage is Bona’s eighth studio album.
Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, Heritage starts off with a bunch of energetic, danceable numbers, and winds its way into softer, sultry tracks by the end, always with an underlying, irresistible groove. Notable tracks include “Jokoh Jokoh,” with its driving percussion and forceful piano, and “Muntula Moto,” with smooth horns and gentle vocals. The final track, “Kwa Singa,” stands out, ending the album with a collage of contemporary sounds.
For this project, Bona collaborated with the Afro-Cuban band Mandekan Cubano. The idea was to explore the history of Afro-Cuban music, going all the way back to traditions from the Mali Empire and tracing its evolution to the present. You can listen to Heritage on Bona’s website or on Spotify, as you await the physical U.S. release.
The upcoming U.S. tour dates are as follows:
Sept. 2: Boston, MA, Sculler’s
Sept. 6: Washington, DC, Howard Theater
Sept. 9-10: New York, NY, Club Bonafide
Sept. 13-14: Los Angeles, CA, Catalina’s
Sept. 16: Monterey, CA, Monterey Jazz Festival
Sept. 20-21: Seattle, WA, Jazz Alley