San Francisco (California), USA – Nowadays it is almost universally accepted that the DNA of the blues can be traced back to Africa. Featuring significant collaborations which explore this link – including Corey Harris and Ali Farka Toure – alongside pivotal artists such as Afel Bocoum, Oumou Sangare and Boubacar Traoré, The Rough Guide to African Blues (World Music Network RGNET1186CD) examines this complex and fascinating musical connection.
Compiled by Phil Stanton, co-founder with his wife of World Music Network, The Rough Guide to African Blues explores the link between Africa and the blues, featuring some of the leading artists exploring these cultural routes and keeping the musical tradition alive.
The album focuses on three different slants: traditional African music, music that has been influenced by American styles and musicians from the United States exploring the connections. Perfect examples of this are ‘Special Rider Blues’ by Ali Farka Toure and Corey Harris and ‘Maloyan Devil’ – a collaboration between Bob Brozman and Djeli Moussa Diawara.
Some say the blues come from Mali. This album features truly great Malian musicians – the astounding voice of Oumou Sangare, master guitarist Djelimady Tounkara and the exciting and original Rokia Traore, among others.
Moving north into the Sahara, the CD discovers the desert blues of Etran Finatawa from Niger and Mariem Hassan from Western Sahara.
‘Azara Alhai’, by Rasha, is one of the most beautiful tracks on the album. She grew up in Khartoum and her powerful lyrics about social justice and gender equality have pushed the boundaries of Sudanese women’s music.
From Senegal the guide shows the mixed influences of blues and ‘gnawa’ in ‘Goree’, by Nuru Kane and the particular rhythm of Cassamance in Daby Balde’s ‘Waina Blues’.
The album ends with Baaba Maal & Mansour Seck’s classic ‘Bibbe Leydy’, from their sensational album, Djam Leelii (1984) which creates a unique sound that is simultaneously gentle and intense – a perfect way to end an exploration of the African Blues.
The CD contains a data track that includes an interview with the compiler, Phil Stanton.
Author: World Music Central News Department
World music news from the editors at World Music Central