The New Album from Smooth Jazz/World Music Cameroonian-born Pianist/Producer, comes at a time when musical artistic expression is deeply rooted in the remaking of popular music (cover songs) by up and coming musicians. Mbandi is definitely part of this new generation of artists; however, his approach to arranging and recording cover music is very unique and personal due to the fact that he is also a prolific composer (on hiatus from composing original material). Mbandi’s cover songs are well within the realm of original compositions; however, just enough is left for the listener to decipher the songs origins. This unique approach has helped Mbandi garner millions of views on YouTube and a massive online following of almost 100k loyal fans and counting. Mbandi’s concerts are powerful and his delightful sense of humor on stage adds tremendously to the the Mbandi concert experience.
Mbandi was born in Cameroon, which is a small nation on the west coast of Africa. Growing up, Mbandi soaked in the rich African culture of music and dance; however, his own personal musical expression was stifled by the fact that his exposure to musical instruments was limited to images from T.V and books. The priorities for most parents in Cameroon was providing education and sustenance for their kids. Musical instruments were very scarce and only available to the very wealthy. Once Mbandi came to the US in his teens to attend university, the floodgates of musical expression were opened. Mbandi was able start the process of cultivating his unique sound by harnessing his rich African culture, coupled with Classical and Smooth Jazz musical genres which he was now exposed to.
Mbandi’s style ranges from heartwarming classical-like pieces with intricate yet soothing piano and lush string arrangements, to pieces with sultry Smooth Jazz saxophone accompanied by piano, and African vocal harmonic accents and rhythms. As can be heard from Mbandi’s second album from his “Beyond Borders” series, Mbandi uses Classical, Smooth Jazz, and African/World Music influences to create unique instrumental arrangements of popular songs. Mbandi dares to go where no one has gone before (with songs like “See You Again”) by bringing together musicians and instruments three continents; China (Chinese Pipa), Africa and the US, to create a sound that brilliantly incorporates subtle elements of these cultures, but yet sounds familiar to the western listener.
With no formal training in music, Mbandi’s unique artistry is breath of fresh air in an industry where music is driven by predictable formulas.