African Blues Lifts the Soul

African Blues
Putumayo 317-2
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Call this one the sequel to Mali to Memphis, the 1999 project spearheaded by Taj Mahal in which American blues artists traveled to Africa to discover their roots. African Blues largely migrates in the opposite direction; that is, African artists explore American styles. The ensemble Mali Latino opens the collection with “Ni Koh Bedy,” but don’t expect Malian guitar and Carib swing; the sexy, soulful organ licks on this are straight out of Booker T. and the MGs. Diabel Cissokho and Ramon Goose check in later with “Totoumo,” which sounds like the intersection of kora music and Ry Cooder. By contrast, Amar Sandy’s “Camel Shuffle” has the muscularity of electric Chicago blues, and the collaboration between Playing for Change and Tinariwen on “Groove in G” is a psychedelic/blues mash that ought to come with its own light show. You’ll also hear echoes of Delta blues, introspective jazz grooves, Memphis blues, and others. Make no mistake–this is not Africans playing American music. A quick listen to the chant/drone quality of the vocals of “Alam’i” dispel such thoughts. But everyone is clearly having a good time. Taj Mahal checks in with a guest turn with the Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar. The song is called “Dhow Countries,” but it’s what Barry White might have done with a plane ticket to Africa.

Check out the world blues of “Groove in G: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LQhamwJcVY Very cool stuff indeed. 

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