"He's not just a percussionist," seems to be the message Mino Cinelu is trying to convey on his eclectic first solo album after a lengthy career as an accompanist to jazz and pop stars. In that attempt, he steps out from his battery to sing, play guitars and flute, and to compose, arrange, program, and produce the music. The results range from the folk-rock feel of "Confians" to the South African flavor of "Chouval Boa" and the Latin sound of "See Yea - Salee Yea" (which will remind pop fans of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)"). But it takes nothing away from Cinelu's varied abilities to say that he is really a percussionist writ large on this album, one who has a fondness for nature (wind in "Moun Madinina," crickets in "Shibumi Dunes (Silk Road)") and unusual drum sounds (the latter a definitional characteristic of percussionists). Therefore, your level of interest in the recording will depend on how fond you are of percussion. If, for example, you like Sting's more exotic recordings (Cinelu can be heard on ... Nothing Like the Sun and Brand New Day), but wish he would shut up so you could hear the drums, this is the record for you. More general music fans, however, may find the experience of listening to this album akin to the curious entertainment enjoyed by theater fans upon encountering Tom Stoppard's 1966 play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which focuses on two minor characters in Hamlet; while it can be diverting, something seems to be missing.
Review by William Ruhlmann