It was in Colorado that Mohammed Alidu and guitarist Matthew Wasowski met and felt an
immediate musical affinity for one another. Their collaboration as Mohammed Alidu and the Bizung Family furthers the metaphor of the coming together of Africa (Ghana) and
America. Alidu’s understated qualities as a band leader play to a kind
of poetical detachment, but underlying any such qualities there is
almost always some kind of alienation at the core. (That is some of what
fuels almost all expressive art, in one way or another.)
Recorded in Colorado, as well as Madagascar, and utilizing the talking drum masters of Northern Ghana as a jumping off point, Alidu offers up some smooth and polished vocals no matter the flavor of the material, from jazz forms to cock-eyed British folk music, to the nativist attitude of “Take A Look” and the female vocals and
strong crossover appeal of “Baby You Know,” as well as the jazzier tones
of “Wantoo.” There’s some great guitar work throughout by Matthew Wasowski and John Welch, particularly on an accessible song like “Salabe.”
Peeling off Mark Knopfler-esque solos that conveniently fit right into the matrix of their sound ain’t no thang at all. The horns really make their presence felt on “On Y Yar” and the aforementioned “Baby You Know”, and that expands their musical scope even further. Despite the up-tempo mood and dance-ability of a lot of these songs, there is a mysterious darkness underneath it all, in its subliminal tone and politics, and that makes Alidu’s vocals ring with a quiet, detached pain.
N.B. Part of the focus of Alidu’s music is his extended involvement with the
Playing For Change Foundation, which is opening a tuition free school to teach drumming, music and dance in his home country.