From the first few bars of the musical confab entitled Kulanjan, (Hannibal 1444; 59:04) as folk-bluesman Taj Mahal's rollicking guitar and the cascading lines of Mali's master kora player Toumani Diabate interact, it's apparent that cultures are being crossed. Mahal sings "Queen Bee," amidst poly-lingual assertions by Malian singer Ramatou Diakite. Instruments and gestures from distant lands are being ushered onto a common ground.
And it sounds like a perfectly natural hook-up, partly because cross-filtered world music projects have become commonplace, and partly because both musicians come, after a fashion from the same source, a fact that Mahal is well aware of. So what we have here is a meeting of musical kinfolk, swapping riffs and songs from their respective traditions. They get along like long-lost friends.