Rajery, Ballake Sissoko, Driss El Maloumi - 3 MA
Brought to you by TQMP
The Quality Music Project
The title is explained by the geography. Here are three great artists who come from across Africa, from the "3Mas": Madagascar, Mali and Maroc (Morocco). They are all exponents of stringed instruments that played a crucial role in their countries before the arrival of the guitar, and this gently exquisite set explores the links between their styles. Mali's Ballake Sissoko is the best-known of the three; he ranks alongside his friend Toumani Diabate as one of the finest kora players in the world. He's joined here by Driss el Maloumi on the north African/Middle Eastern oud, and Rajery, a master of the valiha, which is a tubular zither constructed around a hollowed piece of bamboo and one of the national instruments of Madagascar. There are occasional vocals, such as some cheerful scat from Rajery, and virtuoso solo tracks from all three, including a rhythmic workout from El Maloumi. But what makes this set special are the collaborations and interplay between the musicians, as they switch between lead work and gently sturdy backing, on stately or reflective tracks that echo their backgrounds, from the Sahara to the Indian Ocean.
-- The Guardian