Deli (Ger)


aec.imt1110949.2 8/13/13 New
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Review Text Ballaké Sissoko is one of the towering young musicians to emerge from Mali in the early 2000s. His playing of the harp-like kora won him many plaudits, in large part for his exquisite work with cousin Toumani Diabaté on New Ancient Strings and with Diabaté and Taj Mahal on the Kulanjan project. This debut solo album, however, truly shows the range of his abilities, and wondrous they are. Using a group, Mandé Tabolo, with very traditional instruments (balofon, n'goni, etc.), he lets his playing take off on flights of fancy, where technique is limited only by imagination -- and Sissoko's imagination seems to have very few limits. He brings in elements of jazz (which by its lineage sits perfectly well with West African music), but for the most part this is simply a very Malian wonder. His very young accompanists -- all under 30 -- have plenty of fire of their own, and a lot of say in individual ways, although it's the vocal contributions of Mama Draba that come across the hottest, passionate and burning. The bottom line, however, is that Sissoko is the leader, and the one offering real direction, whose lightning speed and rippling runs can make the listener hold his breath, and whose writing holds melodies of great beauty. Debuts this good are very thin on the ground. ~ Chris Nickson

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