Ropeadope Records, 2015


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Ajoyo is an eclectic brew of jazz, soul, and traditional sounds from Africa, spearheaded by multi-instrumentalist Yacine Boulares. Though he is originally from Paris, these days Boulares resides in Tunisia; accordingly, he has picked up a wealth of influences from the area. Ajoyo is, of course, more than just Boulares. The group entails an ensemble of clarinets, organs, trumpets, and perhaps most notably, Sarah Elizabeth Charles on lead vocals. Cumulatively, the cast brews a unique blend of rhythms and tempos that are sure to please any fan of jazz. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Jekoro” starts with a soothing lounge feel before world-music influences are brought in, as well as bright trumpets, fleeting organs, and male backing vocals. “Chocot” follows and is a similar approach, sans vocals, only more playful and with instrumental acrobatics you probably won't hear replicated anywhere else. “Idanwo” shifts gears into a soulful, soft endeavor where the quick guitar work makes for an interesting contrast to the otherwise calmness of the song. “Benskin” then complements the already eclectic listen with hand clapping, horn solos, and a quick-paced feel that is both uplifting and heavy on the percussion.

The second half starts off with the most Western of the offerings here, the English sung “The Pearl,” which would rest comfortably on any easy listening station in the States. “The Sokeijo” is next and at nearly six minutes is a long excursion into vibrant and skittering instrumental territory with a mash of horns, swift percussion, and mesmerizing expression. “Tashikere” does a great job of intertwining all the influences present here in an Afro-beat meets indie pop sort of vein, while the closer “Houb Ouna” is a similar approach with more emphasis on the indie portion.

It's no surprise that the word 'Joy' is sandwiched in the middle of the band's moniker. Ajoyo's uncontainable energy and extremely detailed musicianship elicit a level of beauty, grace, and fun that few artists can attain. While the words 'world jazz fusion' won't mean much to many ears, if they mean anything to you, well, so will Ajoyo.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2016 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ropeadope Records, and is used for informational purposes only.