Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In review--From Senegal to Haiti

Ablaye Cissoko/Volker Goetze
Amanké Dionti
Motema (2012)

The world music duo Ablaye Cissoko, a griot kora player from Senegal and Volker Goetze, a trumpeter originally from Germany returned with another masterful recording, Amanké Dionti.  After the duo’s critically-acclaimed Sira (2008), which married a trumpet’s clear tones with the delicacy of a kora (West African harp) and Cissoko’s Senegalese vocals, transformed both world music and jazz.  Not long after, Sira came into the world, another Euro-African duo, Vincent Segal (France) and Ballaké Sissoko (Mali) wed cello with the kora (this duo has an album out in February 2013).

When I listen to Amanké Dionti I wonder what Miles Davis or John Coltrane would have thought of the musical marriage.  The recording fits easily and comfortably into jazz and world music.  I would even squeeze it into world classical and if a new ager didn’t reflect on the socio-political messages of the modern griot songs, the relaxing tones of the trumpet and the kora would definitely appeal to this group too.  The overall sound exudes tranquility and beauty.  I realize that it’s almost a cliché to call the music here breathtaking, but it is, in the same way that a magical sunset causes us to pause and gape at its beauty.  This is the type of music that fills every cell of the body with health and vitality.

Cissoko’s melancholic vocals float over the kora’s arpeggios and Goetze ghostly trumpet on Kana Maloundi.  In contrast, the titular track sets a different mood, of hope that glimmers with the kora’s shimmery tones and warm honeyed vocals.  Haiti features a muted trumpet playing in tandem with the kora and this track that was originally produced for the film Griot by Volker Goetze is my favorite on this recording.  In fact, Cissoko’s soaring vocals give me chills.

I believe that this CD was actually mailed to me last year, but was lost on route.  Then when I read other journalists’ top ten list on the World Music Central site, I felt like reviewing it.  After all, I was one of those music journalists who fell in love with Sira in 2008.

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