TITLE: Northern Light Gambian Night
LABEL: SternsREVIEW: Dawda Jobarteh, a native of The Gambia in West Africa, is the scion of a long line of kora players. His grandfather, Alhaji Bai Konte, is considered one of the all-time greats and played at the 1973 Newport Folk Festival, making him possibly the first kora soloist to perform in the USA. Dawda’s father and uncles are also noted players, but Dawda didn’t take up the instrument until he moved to Denmark in 1999. He’s developed into a fine player who combines his deep understanding of the griot musical tradition with the Western musical influences that are all around him. On his first album as a leader, he’s put together a superb working band featuring guitarist Preben Carlsen, who is fluent in the post-Hendrix stylings of players like Nels Cline, Marc Ribot and, closer to home, Pierre Dorge (track 6 is an outstanding example). Eighteen guest musicians participate as well – most noteworthy are saxophonist Jakob Dinesen, who adds jazz and funk elements to tracks 4 and 12, and tama drummer Pape Seck, who provides mbalax-style seasonings to track 9. An excellent debut and a fine example of contemporary, worldly West African neo-traditional music.
TOP TRACKS: 2 4 6 9 12ALSO RECOMMENDED: 1 3 5 8 10 11 13