Thursday, October 17, 2013

In review--Peace Again in Mali

Mamadou Kelly 
Clermont Music

We are so fortunate these days to experience music of Mali.  Given events in recent years, where Muslim fundamentalists rounded up musicians, burned instruments, and cut off hands of Malian musicians, the musical spirit of Mali continued.  These days, a fragile peace reigns in Mali and we can only wonder about the powerful role music played in keeping hope alive and bringing a sense of solidarity.

Malian guitarist and singer Mamadou Kelly brings us Malian grooves on his album Adibar.  Teaming up with Niafunke musicians that produced Ali Farka Toure and Afel Bocoum’s albums, we are reminded here of Ali Farka Toure’s snaky desert blues.  While guitar is the main instrument with Malian blues vocals, we also hear the traditional calabashes (percussion), spike fiddle (ndjarka), a mandolin-like instrument (djourkel) and bass.  The end result is chill-out music, moving at a slow to medium tempo with strains of cathartic blue notes.

All the songs feature parables or morality tales (the liner notes mention double-meanings about Mali’s recent events).  Fissa Maiga resembles a ballad and tells the story of a poor man who loved his devoted wife until he became a rich man and left his wife for another woman.  Then when he lost all his wealth and the new wife left him, his old wife took him back.  The titular track bounces along like a Taj Mahal tune.  Also included here is a tribute to the Tuareg nomads (Yelli), the Fulani Herdsmen (Sehenon Men) as well as, the hardworking poor man who artists should sing a tribute (Salamou).

If you enjoy the music of Mali, add Adibar to your collection.  May Mali continue to experience peace and may this fabulous music keep coming our way.

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