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World Music CD Reviews Africa


Published June 5, 2006

Griot From Senegal

Saxophonist/kora player Kanouté’s musical pedigree is at once both traditional and academic. As a first-born son in an ancient lineage of Mandiga griots, Kanouté was literally born into the West African oral tradition, responsible for the performance of ceremony and survival of tribal history through spoken word and song. As a student of the saxophone at the National Conservatory of Music in Dakar (as well as veteran of the Senegalese National Orchestra/Afro-salsa band Africando), he was exposed to a wide array of extra-traditional music, much of which he brings to these recordings. The lush arrangement of “Afrique” includes tabla, Western strings and kora, amidst a variety of percussion, all in support of call-and-response vocals and a brief, jazzy sax interlude. “Seremende” begins with a low-buzzing didgeridoo into 6/8, minor-key Cubanesque kora figure and mournful vocal line, before picking up into a swirling driving middle section, Kanouté’s dry tenor trading lines with a chorus of female vocalists. The gentle groove of “Dioulo” floats on a reggae-informed bass, kora, intricate percussion and long violin strains.