April 4, 2017

Mamadou Kelly | Politiki

ARTIST: Mamadou Kelly
TITLE: Politiki
LABEL: Clermont Music
Guitarist Mamadou Kelly is one of the stalwarts of the Songhai blues idiom that was popularized by Ali Farka Toure. For years he played in the band of Afel Bocoum, who himself was Toure’s second guitarist and right-hand man. Kelly stepped out as a front man in 2013, leading his band Ban Kai Na which features Yoro Cisse on djourkel (one-stringed lute) and Hama Sankare, a virtuoso of calabash percussion. On his third album, Kelly adds a trio of unlikely guest artists: Grammy-winning Americana steel guitarist Cindy Cashdollar; Susie Ibarra, one of the top drummers in modern jazz; and guitarist Daniel Littleton of the chamber-pop band Ida. They’re inspired additions – the long, easy-going pentatonic jams are tailor-made for Cashdollar and Littlefield’s twangy atmospherics, Ibarra augments Sankare’s percussion polyrhythms, while Kelly’s resonant voice and crisp guitar are at the center of each song. No fusion music here – this is straight desert blues Niafunke style, just with a bigger band and more elaborate arrangements. This album hangs with the best of Ali Farka Toure – in fact 7 is a stellar version of one of my Farka favorites from his record The Source.
TOP TRACKS:    1    3    6    7
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    2    4    5    8

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