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Roswell Rudd/Toumani Diabate: Malicool

Ever probing and self-demanding, Roswell Rudd fulfills an African dream of his in the Confluence Series title Malicool for Sunnyside. Malian kora master Toumani Diabate, in turn, adds an earthy harpesque character to Rudd’s fulsome grittiness throughout a live in-studio recording of an “avant-roots” nature, as progressive as it is ancient. Actually, Rudd is the only participating musician who is not a member of the jeli caste-an almost millenarian corps of professional musicians who keep hold of West African history through music and education. Notwithstanding the masterful use of their traditional instruments and aesthetics, as well as the pioneering import of the production itself, this is not just jeliya music plus a terrific trombone conversationalist. The shaping of musical worldviews and tempers was mutual as the repertoire itself well exemplifies. Aside from compositions by Rudd and Toumani, for instance, Monk, Beethoven, Gershwin and even the traditional Welsh song “All Through the Night” are rendered with the characteristic woodsy smoothness, mystery and vitality of African music, funneled through Rudd’s vision, arrangements and performances. This is the record of an extraordinary international intelligible and emotive musical conversation.

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