www.etiennembappe.comI’ll use this reference only so those of you who haven’t heard Etienne Mbappe yet have a head start on this guy. Many of us are already familiar with Richard Bona… Well, Etienne Mbappe has a similar story. Both hail from Cameroon and both moved to Paris to make their mark (and make a mark they did!) in the music community. Both have toured with the Zawinul Syndicate. Both have the voice of an angel. While both have a similar “Afro-pop” bounce and lyrical way about their playing, I’d say the similarities end there. (although, it’s easy to see why it’s hard to avoid comparison).
Etienne has long been one of my favorite players in the world (dare I say, favorite African bassist I’ve yet to hear in my admittedly limited experience, if not one of my favorite basses hailing from ANY country). He has a very aggressive presence musically and is less prone to soloing for it’s own sake, but make NO mistake… It’s not because he can’t! I can’t overstate enough just how musical, technically proficient and awe inspiring it is to watch Etienne play. Likewise, his CD, “Misiya” is a masterpiece. The intro to, “Camerun O Mulema” for example. Quite possibly the best bass tone I’ve yet to hear and a wonderfully musical and, simultaneously, technically inspiring performance. My favorite track (not just on this album, but possibly of all time) has to be “Anguel’am”. You have to hear it to believe it. Just magical writing, performing and production. I absolutely love this album. This is one of those albums you are excited to turn people onto. Get it….
Oh yeah, can’t forget to mention the gloves. He wears black silk gloves when he plays! As the story goes, it was on suggestion from his wife as a way to deal with sweaty hands. I mention this because I’ve come across many a thread in forums online asking who “the African cat with the gloves” was. Now you know..