Mande Wazy

Mande Wazy is the debut album from the France-based French-Madagascar trio Wa-Zimba—jazz-fusion guitarist Philippe Robert on guitar, mandolin, Dobro and programming; Pierre Acourt on keyboard and programming; and the gorgeous Julio Rakotonanahary on lead vocals and bass. With a band name derived from the first people of the island of Madagascar (off the southeast coast of Africa), the Vazimba, Wa-Zimba delivers a pleasing collection of modern-sounding original songs colored by such traditional touches as the valiha, a harp-like instrument made from hollowed-out bamboo, and the Malagasy flute. Also, Rakotonanahary sings in Malagache, the language of Madagascar. The South African influence on the music of Madagascar is particularly noticeable on “Andeha Hody” (“Returning to the Village”), in the richly harmonized back-up vocals from Sha Rakotofiringa and Coco Mbassi. Ze-luis Nascimento is one of several able percussionists adding polyrhythmic excitement to this happy-sounding CD.