CD Review: Various Artists, African Blues

African BluesPutumayo World Music, 2012
www.putumayo.com

Ah, what a joy this album is. Mali Latino start things off in an unassuming but soulful way with bluesy acoustic guitar, plaintive vocal, jazzy Booker T-style Hammond organ, and relaxed percussion – a beautiful introduction to a beautiful compilation. Adama Yalomba follows with the lively “Djamakoyo,” featuring complex rhythm, handclap percussion, call and response vocals and a wondrous, light touch. Diabel Cissokho and Ramon Goose then offer “Totoumo,” which in its rhythms and delivery brings to mind none less than John Lee Hooker.

So it goes, track after track of powerful, amazingly varied blues of a sort we’ve not yet heard from the bluesmen of Chicago or the Delta or the Piedmont, and never will from the ten thousand blues-rock groups out there. You may or may not recognize some of the other groups and individuals involved: Amar Sundy, Issa Bagayogo, The Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar (performing here with Taj Mahal), Kalaban Coura, Koudede, Playing For Change (featuring Tinariwen), and Muntu Valdo.

Hailing mostly from West Africa (Mali figures prominently, no surprise), these musicians offer a wealth of diverse influences, including some very direct connections to the blues of the USA – and don’t even try to count the myriad musical genres nimbly touched on in “Groove in G.” As one might expect, instrumental virtuosity reigns throughout, so you won’t be the least bothered by the lack of English lyrics, or any lyrics at all in a few cases. As for the packaging, it’s of the well-presented, thoughtful kind we expect from the Putumayo label.

In summary, African Blues is a marvel of musical enjoyment, perhaps a revelation for lovers of traditional blues, definitely a pleasure for lovers of great music wherever it may be found.



About Ted Boothroyd :

Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete. Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood. | View all posts by Ted Boothroyd

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Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete.

Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood.

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