“Lo’Jo, led by a smoky-voiced chanteur named Denis Pean, sounds like an itinerant cabaret band that has wandered a long way from the boulevards, hearing griot tunes and tangos and Tom Waits but not forgetting its accordion” — The New York Times
Guided by a man compared to a barefoot and be-hatted Serge Gainsbourg, and with a history colored by circus artists, actors, pyrotechnicians, street performers, painters, acrobats, festivals, and cabarets, Lo’Jo, the band of French global troubadours, releases their first live CD, Ce Soir Lá, on October 12, 2004 on World Village.
Read the reviews of French band Lo’Jo and you’ll hear descriptions of a veritable where’s-where of world music: Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, North African, West African, English, Gypsy, Caribbean, and of course French. These diverse origins are united seamlessly by the gravelly voice of lead singer Denis Péan, the genetically synchronized tones of singing sisters Nadia and Yamina, and the legacy of the band’s quirky origins of street performance. Operating communally from a house in Angers, France, Lo’Jo’s success has largely resulted from constant worldwide touring and a do-it-yourself mentality that is paying off twenty years after the band’s founding.
Ce Soir Lá was recorded on tour in France and features both well-loved favorites and as-yet unreleased material. The CD harnesses the dynamic stage presence of the group that has captivated audiences across the globe. The live compilation showcases the husky lyrics of founder Denis Péan mingled with instrumentation that ranges from the violin and piano to the bassoon, harmonium, Turkish clarinet, imzad (a one-stringed fiddle from the Sahara) and kamel n’goni (a West African lute similar to the kora). Selections hearken back to many of Lo’Jo’s previously released albums, including Fils de Amal (1993), Sin Acabar (1996), Mojo Radio (1998), Bohême de Cristal (2000), and Au Cabaret Sauvage (2002), the latter three released in the USA by World Village.
A highlight of the CD is a memorable performance with Benin’s Gangbé Brass Band on the cut “Señor Calice.” The journey also reflects some new material like the album’s opening track “Invitation” and the deeper “Cada Hombre” (“Every Man”), in which Niviera Tejera’s lyrics speak of “a window that opens never again.”
In homage to Lo’Jo’s origins in street theater, Ce Soir Lá includes an enhanced CD-ROM track, “Tangito ‘In Pictures,’” which offers film footage of the acrobatic rope duo Les Sélène swinging and twirling in mesmerizing arcs high above the concert stage. “Music makes you dance, and it’s music that makes us climb,” pronounce these lyrics by Berber sisters Nadia and Yamina Nid el Mourid, and Les Sélène’s dance on air takes us to those heights.
The October 12 release of Ce Soir Lá coincides with the release of Amassakoul, the latest CD by Tuareg rebel guitar band Tinariwen, and the new DVD, The Festival in the Desert by filmmaker Lionel Brouet, both on World Village. Lo’Jo were central in the coordination of the 2003 festival, the vibrant outcome of Lo’Jo members meeting Tuareg musicians in Bamako, sister city to their hometown of Angers. They produced Le Festival au Désert along with English guitarist Justin Adams and Tinariwen. The three releases are complemented by a 12-concert tour by Tinariwen in October and November of 2004.
“Lo'Jo has made the trip from Angers, France to Bamako, Mali in barely a minute” — The Washington Post