Label: Blue Note Records
Mwaliko is as cool a calling card as Lionel Loueke could leave. The album's name means "invitation" in Swahili, and the name fits: The Benin-born guitarist doesn't force you into his world; he draws you in, one elegant track at a time. This remains resolutely a jazz album in its privileging of exploration over hooks and repetition, but every African touch -- and there are many -- adds life and interest. His duets with Esperanza Spalding, the iridescent "Twins" and "Flying," are stunning, and easily the most lively and accessible tracks on a lovely album.