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

Various Artists: A Day in the Life, Impressions of Pepper (Impulse!)

Various Artists: A Day in the Life, Impressions of Pepper (Impulse!)

Jazz musicians are renown for their sense of time, although – if this album is any measure – perhaps not for their timing. Arriving fully 18 months after the 50th anniversary of the... > Read more

Joey Alexander: Countdown (Motema/Ode)

Joey Alexander: Countdown (Motema/Ode)

Indonesian Alexander is a child prodigy who caught the jazz world's attention as an 11-year old. He seemed a natural and had been weaned on his father's jazz collection. He played for Herbie... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello: My Brave Face (1988 demo)

Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello: My Brave Face (1988 demo)

Elsewhere recently essayed at length the expended reissue of Paul McCartney's album Flowers in the Dirt from 1989, the album the returned him to critical favour after many lesser albums in the... > Read more

THE STORY OF FILM, a doco series by MARK COUSINS

THE STORY OF FILM, a doco series by MARK COUSINS

Some weeks ago in the New Zealand Herald their writer-at-large Peter Calder had an interesting column about movie theatres converting over to digital projection from 35mm prints. As he... > Read more