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 Finitawa 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

Michael Houstoun/The Rodger Fox Big Band: Concerti (Rattle Jazz)

Michael Houstoun/The Rodger Fox Big Band: Concerti (Rattle Jazz)

Much as New Zealand's most accomplished classical pianist might have wanted, and indeed deserved, a less arduous project after his magisterial Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas, this one with the... > Read more

Sheppard/Benita/Rochford: Trio Libero (ECM/Ode)

Sheppard/Benita/Rochford: Trio Libero (ECM/Ode)

This elegant and sinuously lyrical album features two generations of British jazz musicians; saxophonist Andy Sheppard who came to prominence in the post-Marsalis years in the Eighties alongside... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

PROFESSOR BRYAN SYKES INTERVIEWED (2003): Genetics in the headlines

PROFESSOR BRYAN SYKES INTERVIEWED (2003): Genetics in the headlines

Academics are a pretty sniffy bunch sometimes, says Bryan Sykes. Which would be an amusing observation if this professor of human genetics at the University of Oxford was laughing. But his... > Read more

Scotty's salmon'n'scallop filo gateau with a capsicum dill buerre blanc

Scotty's salmon'n'scallop filo gateau with a capsicum dill buerre blanc

This superb and astonishingly easy recipe comes courtesy of Scotty Newcombe, chef at Lake Brunner Lodge in the South Island of New Zealand. Lake Brunner Lodge is one of those ideal retreats... > Read more