Born: March 10, 1957 Primary Instrument: Percussion
Master percussionist/composer/singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Mino Cinelu's first solo album has been a long time coming. It's been 20 years, to be exact.
Mino Cinelu, his self-titled debut on Blue Thumb Records, has certainly been worth the long wait. The album is a musical journey into the mind and heart of an internationally-respected performer. The short list of artists who have called on Cinelu for their tours and records features a number of major stars from the worlds of jazz and pop, including: Miles Davis, Weather Report, Sting, Cassandra Wilson, Lou Reed, Geri Allen, David Sanborn, Dizzy Gillespie, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Barron, Branford Marsalis, Tori Amos, Bruce Springsteen, Christian McBride, Tracy Chapman, Stevie Wonder, and Bonnie Raitt.
To call this project a solo album is almost literal: Cinelu was joined in the studio by only two musicians American guitarist Mitch Stein and Cameroon bassist Richard Bona. Additionally, Cinelu produced, wrote, composed, programmed, and arranged the album. He also sang lead and most backing vocals; played acoustic and electric guitars, banchi, bandoneon, slide guitar, e-bow electric guitar, flute, drums, percussion; and created sound effects. What the listener hears here is pure Mino his music, his hands, his soul. This is the first time it's truly my baby, he said.
On Mino Cinelu, you can feel his relationship with the instruments one that is physical, almost sensual. You can also sense the artist's pulse beating within him it's unique, with a swing that is both earthy and soaring at the same time.
Mino Cinelu is reason to celebrate that which is good in music soft and dense, uplifting and vibrant, all song, life, and dance. It's all there in Cinelu's unified, yet wonderfully-varied compositions. From the the insistent, tribal Moun Madinina, Why Not, and On Coming Horizons to the soft pop beauty of Confians, Namonale, Soon I Will Be Home, and See Yea Salee Yea, Mino Cinelu gives the world its first chance to experience the solo creations of this masterful artist. The Eastern-flavored Shibumi Dunes; the acoustic guitar-driven ballad Petit Prince; and the Afro-jazz stretch of Will O The Wisp round out the album and help to display Cinelu's inspiring musical agility.
Born in Saint-Cloud, France in 1957, the French-Caribbean Cinelu played guitar when he was a child, calling it his first love. As a youth, he visited his father's homeland of Martinique and absorbed the island's chouval bwa music with its unique rhythms. He started playing drums as a teenager, forming his own funk-fusion band, and he also picked up percussion. He devoured his father's Afro-Cuban records, which led to his interesting playing style. I didn't at that time know that there was more than one percussion player playing, he told Rhythm magazine. So I tried to re-create those rhythms by myself, and I developed a weird technique. He lived in England for a year, and eventually moved to America, where he quickly hooked up with Miles Davis and began his international career. He has since been in high demand from performers of all genres.
But, it is on his own album that he gets to stretch his wide-ranging abilities most. The drums, the voice, the flute, the guitar I need to hear sounds, he told Rhythm magazine. I need to tell a story. To me, if you just put rhythms together, they're just rhythms. If there's no story behind it, to me it's sterile. So this new album is my story, basically. It's all those musics that I grew up with. It's a voyage, and it goes through many places, but there's a unity, and this is what's important.
Cinelu is a musician who causes barriers to fall an enchanting artist who has crossed through all types of jazz, caused funk to vibrate, and made pop swing and groove. On Mino Cinelu, the worlds of music coalesce in the palms of his hands to form an otherworldly blend of jazz, blues, Afro-pop, Indian, folk, and rock. The wait has indeed been worth it.
With Miles Davis
We Want Miles (1982)
Star People (1986)
With Weather Report
Sportin' Life (1985, Columbia Records)
This is This! (1986, Columbia Records)
World Trio (1995)
With Kevin Eubanks and Dave Holland
Mino Cinelu (2000)
With Moun Madinina
Quest Journey (2002)
With other artists
Michael Portal - Turbulence, 1987
Sting - Nothing Like the Sun, 1987
Kenny Barron/Mino Cinelu - Swamp Sally, 1995
Layo & Bushwacka!/Mino Cinelu - Feels Closer, 2006^
Serge Forté - Thanks for All, Ella Productions 2004
Anna Maria Jopek - Farat, 2003
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