Dee Dee Bridgewater: Red Earth, A Malian Journey (Universal)

 |   |  1 min read

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Bad Spirits/Bani
Dee Dee Bridgewater: Red Earth, A Malian Journey (Universal)

Just last week I was saying to a friend that Mali was starting to feel like the new Jamaica. Consider the number of artists whose names are becoming familiar: the late Ali Farka Toure and now his gifted son Vieux Farka Toure; Toumani Diabate, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare . . .

And now there is the wave of sub-Sahara blues bands like Etran Finatawa and Tinariwen (both heavily featured in Elsewhere) who have connections with Mali.

All of these people have readily available CDs in shops around the world. And Mali has proven a source for Western musicians too: Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) made his album Mali Music about four years ago, blues singer Corey Harris made the journey and recorded the album Mississippi To Mali, and now jazz singer Bridgewater has gone back to Africa.

If there is a reason why musicians from Mali haven't achieved the profile of reggae musicians out of Jamaica in the 70s and 80s it is probably due to one thing: they sing in either their own language or French.

Not such an issue here with Bridgewater whose album takes the form of a journey of discovery, opening with her rapid, scene setting treatment of Mongo Santamaria's Afro Blue before really digging in deep with local musicians Toumani Diabate (on the marvellous harp-like kora), singers Ramata Diakite, Oumou Sangare and others.

Throughout Bridgewater weaves her jazz chops: Wayne Shorter's Footprints with a Western band and some Malian guests seems a little out of place but Nina Simone's Four Women makes excellent sense on an album where African women are profiled and celebrated.

This is a very sophisticated and in some places quite an intellectual take on Mali and its music and won't appeal much if, like me, you prefer the music of those local artists mentioned at the outset.

But there is more than enough Mali here to bring it back to earth.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

ORNETTE COLEMAN AND THE NAKED LUNCH SOUNDTRACK (1991): Something else, again

ORNETTE COLEMAN AND THE NAKED LUNCH SOUNDTRACK (1991): Something else, again

Movie director David Cronenberg was a gutsy guy, asking Ornette Coleman to play on the soundtrack for his inspired but ultimately flawed realisation of crusty old Bill Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.... > Read more

JOHN COLTRANE'S LOST ALBUM (2018): Four guys walk into a studio in New Jersey . . .

JOHN COLTRANE'S LOST ALBUM (2018): Four guys walk into a studio in New Jersey . . .

In the half century since his death (in 1967), the music of John Coltrane has inspired, charmed and challenged musicians, jazz aficionados and even worked its way into the language of hip-hop and... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE ROLLING STONES: SWEET SUMMER SUN; HYDE PARK LIVE  (Shock CD/DVD)

THE ROLLING STONES: SWEET SUMMER SUN; HYDE PARK LIVE (Shock CD/DVD)

Recently a music blogger asserted boldly the Stones had never done a decent version of Satisfaction live which – unless he'd seen the thousands of Stones shows since mid 65 –... > Read more

ET.AL AT THE 2005 VENICE BIENNALE: Reporting on the site office

ET.AL AT THE 2005 VENICE BIENNALE: Reporting on the site office

Pity the Welsh, and not just for their poor rugby team. At this year’s Venice Biennale their artists were at a site so removed you probably only found it if you got on the wrong boat heading... > Read more