France's Lo'Jo have been adventurous on their studio albums, mixing any number of styles in inventive ways. But the test of any group is how they interpret and develop the material live. Most of the pieces her have been part of the band's repertoire for quite some time, taken from their several discs. But for the shows from which these recordings were made, the lineup was augmented by a pair of reed players and Benin's Gangbé Brass Band, offering many more possibilities to the arrangements. Sometimes that means an almost chamber music-like delicacy, as on "Dobosz," with its wonderfully intricate, weaving lines. Elsewhere, such as with "Senor Calice," it brings a roaring stomp, with the burnished brass and a rap in the middle. But ultimately it's about Lo'Jo themselves, their material and ideas. They stretch out a little, leaving plenty of room for Richard Bourreau's sparkling violin and the wonderful vocals of Nadia and Yamina Nid El Mourid, while the rhythm section grounds everything inventively and unobtrusively. And finally there is Denis Péan, with the gruff voice -- a sort of Gallic Tom Waits -- and keyboards (like the recurring sample on "Cinq Cauris" that propels the piece). Compare these songs with the original studio versions, and you'll hear how they've matured and grown, and become even more interesting. Like some circus band out of a dream by Fellini, Lo'Jo offer a glimpse into the unusual, sometimes surreal, and often beautiful -- not only in the studio, but also on the stage.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson
feat: Gangbé Brass Band