Friday, June 02, 2006

Real roots music

The liner notes of "In the Heart of the Moon," Nonesuch, say African guitarist Ali Farka Touré and kora master Toumani Diabaté made the CD pretty much like Coleman Hawkins and Duke Ellington made that Duke meets Hawk disk from Impulse. They just showed up, chatted a bit about what songs to play and played them, not jazz standards but traditional music of Mali, which, as I found with Mamadou Diabaté's "Tunga," can be gripping stuff. (Mamadou, also a kora player, is Toumani's cousin.)

"In the Heart of the Moon" is the deep roots of blues and jazz. I hear call and response, field hollers and spirituals, syncopation, ragtime, blues musicians from Mississippi John Hurt to Guy Davis, spontaneous improvisation as individuals and as a unit, bebop. Oh, and impressive guitar playing as well, here added to the hauntingly beautiful sounds of the kora. I called "Tunga" enchanting and mind expanding. Ditto.

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