I had already noticed in the release from Thee, Stranded Horse (here) how beautiful the African kora sounded in combination with acoustic guitar. The kora sounds a bit harp-like, has aspects from the Celtic harp as if touching the strings inside as well (the Celtic Harp with 5 or 7 strings is said to be related to 5 or 7 inner strings to touch), the same sensitivity I sense here too. But the instrument is also played with typical African ideas. To some degree this is typical for the instrument interpretation of this African touch sounds as if the theme and idea is compensated or better an uplifted version of the Afro-hypnotic rhythmic trance music but also dance music, here it becomes something from a much higher sensitive and more meditative musical level. Fast improvised fingerpickings are combined with pattern based repetitions of rhythmic melodies. But also jazz-like guitar leads or comes in spontaneously, or African-guitar ideas wind perfectly, Indian-flavoured sit-guitar (from his own fabrication) and so on, played always in a perfect vivid combination. And some wordless singing (slightly Indian flavoured) spontaneously comes forward here too, like a blossoming birth coming forward, fading in as if imagined from the music itself. Here and there we hear a subtle additional instrument, always melted with the rest, like I almost forgot to mention the soft touch of upright bass. Brilliant eternal music : I can keep on listening to this album again and again and again. Ad finitum.
Suisa Taffetas : Caméléon(CH/GN/BF,2006)****
On the same fundament as the previous release now are added two African singers, Fatoumata Dembélé and Nana Cissokho, both from Burkina Faso (male lead singer, backing female singing, sometimes as a second lead voice) which makes the music a bit different, with a more direct from life injected energy. Also large instrumental parts (bass.guitar/kora) can still be heard. Another enjoyable release with a charming warmth, and a contemporary flavour of certain traditions.
Nuovos Medios Songhai (SP,ML,UK,1988)****'
-Ketama, Toumani Diabate, Danny Thompson-
Songhai was a short-lived project led by a new flamenco band Ketama, having invited Mali kora-player Toumani Diabate with UK double-bass Pentangle (John Martyn band,..). legend Danny Thompson for a new blending of styles expanding flamenco style with new improvisation, but also with a few compositional ideas by Toumani Diabate although it was not specifically mentioned. The Spanish group keeps their own style, while especially Toumani Diabate shows ideas where he adapts the flamenco style of the kora somewhere, the Spanish band leaves spaces for each musician's own contribution, even in between space of the layers adding different poly-rhythmic solutions. The band made two albums. I accidentally found my own copy in store's sell-out. The name Danny Thompson for me was enough for me to try it.
Only at first listen I though some of the Spanish ideas did not yet show its foundations how and if they were composed for the crossroad meeting point, the way that the music is played, a lot more is still able to happen thanks to the developed skilled visions on improvisation. On this meeting point it seems that some compositions are shared and reworked to a more common style, where the kora plays a great role.
From the opener, “Jarabi” a live video was made. It is the track where Danny Thompson's double bass contribution is very recognisable too, and where the fusion dialogue between the musicians is working in optimal conditions. On the CD the version is with only some guitar and hand clap rhythms, while on the live version there's hand percussion. “Mani Mani Kuru” has female singers too. The album succeeds to grow with each listen. While this sounds light and logical, a lot of musical interaction happensduring these short 33 minutes. A very good album.
I have no idea if on the second album (II) the cooperation has improved or not.
PS. Songhai refers to the pre-colonial Muslim state centered in Western Africa, which was one of the largest and longest existing empires in African history.