• Lionel Loueke

As much as I admire the technique and imagination of Beninese jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke, I’ve had regular doubts about his aesthetic. I think I’ll like his music when I read about it, but when I listen to it I often feel indifferent or cold. I don’t think his new album, Heritage (Blue Note), is great, but it’s far and away his strongest. Interestingly, all the things that made his work novel to me—the easy facility with African rhythms and pop structures, the wordless vocals that follow his guitar lines in effortless unison, the clever, percussive guitar effects—have been toned down if not eliminated altogether.