|Since arriving in New York in 1995, bassist-vocalist-composer Richard Bona has been one of the most sought-after talents on the scene.
To date, guitarists Larry Coryell, Mike Stern and Pat Metheny, keyboardists Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Jacky Terrasson and Bob James, saxophonists Sadao Watanabe, Branford Marsalis and David Sanborn, violinist Regina Carter, vocalist Bobby McFerrin and trumpeter Randy Brecker have enlisted his services as a sideman. But it is in the context as a leader in his own right that the gifted Cameroonian has revealed the full scope of his artistry.
On Reverence, his follow-up to 1999's acclaimed debut Scenes from My Life, Bona renders rich tales with his striking, angelic falsetto voice, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, electric bass, flute, keyboards and percussion. The settings on this diverse project range from sparse, thoroughly engaging African troubadour offerings like the opening "Invocation," the infectious ditty "Sweet Mary" and "Laka Mba" to highly evocative orchestral numbers like the gentle ballad "Suninga" and the poignant title track (featuring special guest Pat Metheny); from a tender duet with Cuban pianist Edsel Gomez on "Esoka" to the buoyant, upbeat "Bisso Baba"; from the funky groover "Ngad'a Ndutu (Widow's Dance)" (wherein Bona mixes it up in Jacoesque fashion on electric bass alongside tenor sax star Michael Brecker and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta) to the salsafied "Ekwa Mwato" to the all-out fusion burn between Bona and Colaiuta on "Mbanga Kumba."