Zimbabwe: Mokoomba Returns to America!

The hottest band in Zimbabwe is back on the road in America. We caught the group on April 7 at a gala for Global Arts Live, an organization that has presented exceptional music and dance from around the world for over three decades. The evening began at the Somerville Theater with Angélique Kidjo, fronting a smaller, largely new band. For one thing, there was no guitar, but the newly spare sound was superb, showcasing Kidjo's incomparable voice over simmering grooves that referenced highlife and Congolese music with subtle perfection. The set featured new arrangements of songs from Kidjo's 2021 album, Mother Nature, as well as Celia Cruz and Miriam Makeba tributes and two Talking Heads numbers. Kidjo now owns "Crosseyed and Painless" and "Once in a Lifetime" as never before, and she owned that stage. Her 14th performance in Boston with Global Arts Live was certainly one of her best.

Next, in the adjacent Crystal Ballroom, Mokoomba performed as part of their first U.S. tour since 2018 when they were inducted into the Afropop Hall of Fame in New York. This group has an absolutely transcendent effect on a live audience. Mathias Muzaza's voice might be described as a cross between Mahlathini's overtone-rich, baritone roar and the soaring power and melodicism of Salif Keita. And no band we know has stronger vocal harmonies, not to mention exuberant, choreographed dance moves. The set featured tracks from their 2023 album Tusoma: Tracings in the Sand, and it was electrifying, start to finish.

Mokoomba's tour continues, including a show at the Crown Hill Theater in Brooklyn on Saturday, April 13. If you're anywhere in the vicinity, book your tickets now!

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