There was Dave Clark, of course, and Phil Collins, but it's hard to think of many successful singing drummers. Cheikh Lo, from Senegal, is something of a rarity, for he is both a stirring, inventive percussionist and one of the finest, most distinctive and soulful singers in west Africa. Just to add to his repertoire, he can also switch to lead guitar. An impressive-looking figure in his dreadlocks and multicoloured shirt - the uniform of the Baye Fall Islamic sect - Lo ought by now to be one of the major African success stories. However, as this intriguing but frustrating show proved, he still can't find the right focus for his undoubted skills.
His latest album, Lamp Fall, was a mixture of African, funk, Cuban and Brazilian styles; it was his first release in five years and sounded as though it had taken far too long to record. At the Jazz Cafe, Lo didn't attempt to reproduce the album but instead took a very different approach, mixing the new songs into a spontaneous-sounding jam session.
The opening was strangely low-key: he seemed to concentrate less on his singing than on the percussive breaks in which he sparred with a second drummer and talking drum player. He finally found his form with M'Beddemi, an upbeat Cuban-influenced song in which he switched between rousing vocal phrases and bursts of percussion, interspersed with some fine work from his two saxophonists. (These included the great Pee Wee Ellis, who spent much of his early career working alongside James Brown.)
At his best - as with the new, rousing anti-war anthem Kelle Magni, or early songs such as Guiss Guiss - Lo's singing continued to match his instrumental work. Then Ellis mysteriously left the stage, looking like a man with a train to catch, and Lo reverted to riffs, more percussive workouts and bursts of rather less interesting guitar work. It was entertaining enough, but he is capable of far more.