458

Roswell Rudd/Toumani Diabate: MALIcool

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Roswell Rudd/Toumani Diabate: MALIcool Most closely associated with free jazz and the avant-garde, trombonist Roswell Rudd is, in fact, a highly diverse player who has worked in Dixieland, not to mention the less-glamorous but equally necessary-to-survive confines of hotel resort bands. Thankfully, in the past few years his visibility has been raised once again with projects including the eclectic Broad Strokes and the two-volume Unheard Herbie Nichols. Nowhere, however, has his more melodious side been so successfully coupled with a broader sense of adventure than on MALIcool, a cross-genre recording that blends Roswell's robust sound with the rhythms and harmonies of some of Mali's finest musicians.

Following a trip to Mali in '00, where Rudd first had the opportunity to play with Toumani Diabate, a master of the unusual 21-string harp-like kora at the French Cultural Center in Bamako, the idea of a recording that featured Rudd and Diabate in a larger group context became a reality. MALIcool features, along with the kora, the banjo-like ngoni, the tuned percussion of the balafon, guitar, bass and percussion. The blend is infectious and appealing on a variety of levels. Melodic and danceable, this may be Rudd's most accessible record, yet for all its engaging characteristics, it never fails to be imaginative and audacious.

Demonstrating that there can be common ground in the most surprising of sources, Rudd and MALIcool work their way through a number of originals from Rudd and Diabate. Perhaps most surprising, however, is their version of Monk's "Jackie-ing," which imposes a triplet feel over four and gives everyone plenty of room to stretch out. Lassana Diabate's balafon states the familiar theme, but from then on it's everybody's business. Basseko Kouyate's ngoni solo is remarkable for his ability to blend the simpler seven-tone scale of traditional Malian music with a definite hint of blue. "Malijam" is another interesting piece that takes Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" and opens it up for broader improvisation by Rudd, Kouyate and the two Diabates.

Cross-cultural exchanges are a risky business. All too often the joining feels forced and unnatural. But whether extrapolating on the tender Welsh standard "All Through the Night," re-imagining Gershwin's "Summertime" on "Sena et Mariam," or kicking up the dance on "MALIcool," Rudd and the group blend seamlessly to create a sound that is fresh, ethnically rooted and completely organic.

Rudd has been touring this summer with a modified version of MALIcool, featuring Mamadou Kouyate on kora instead of Diabate, and the shows have been captivating. Hopefully, by extending the reach of the project to larger festival audiences Rudd will be able to keep MALIcool a going concern rather than a one-off project. It will be very interesting to see where Rudd takes this unusual shift in direction, if there is a chance for it to continue.


Track Listing: Bamako; Rosmani; Jackie-ing; All Through the Night; Hank; Johanna; For Toumani; MALIcool; Sena et Mariam; MALIjam

Personnel: Roswell Rudd (trombone), Toumani Diabate (kora), Lassana Diabate (balafon), Basseko Kouyate (ngoni), Henry Schoy (bass), Sayon Sissoko (guitar), Sekou Diabate (djembe), Mamadou Koutate (vocals on "Rosmani" and "Hank"), Dala Diabate (vocals on "Hank")

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Colors for the Masters" CD/LP/Track Review Colors for the Masters
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "December Songs" CD/LP/Track Review December Songs
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "The Declaration of Musical Independence" CD/LP/Track Review The Declaration of Musical Independence
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Never Group" CD/LP/Track Review Never Group
by Mark F. Turner
Published: March 23, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by John Sharpe
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Fierce Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Fierce Silence
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!