186

Jack DeJohnette and Foday Musa Suso: Music from the Hearts of the Masters

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Jack DeJohnette and Foday Musa Suso: Music from the Hearts of the Masters Conventional wisdom has it that Africa is the home of the drum, and over the years many an American musician has looked to the Dark Continent for rhythmic inspiration. But this particular collaboration turns the tables on that assumption, so to speak, by placing veteran jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette in the company of a kora (21-stringed West African harp/lute) player from the Gambia. Foday Musa Suso is no stranger to this sort of joint effort, having worked closely with Herbie Hancock and Philip Glass, among others, over the years. It was, in fact, his Hancock collaboration Village Life (Columbia, 1984) which first got DeJohnette interested in his music. The kora has a distinctively warm, resonant, and gently pulsating sound that lends it versatility in many musical settings.

Any time two players this experienced from such vastly different backgrounds get together, they test your expectations. Will DeJohnette introduce his own powerful swinging aura into the decidedly non-swinging music of the Senegambia? Will Suso steer events toward the time-tested traditions of Manding music? (He is, after all, a griot, having inherited his position in a family of musicians, storytellers, and historians that stretches back hundreds of years.)

Both expectations are realized to some extent on Music from the Hearts of the Masters. Look no further than the fifth track, "Kaira ("peace ), which has become an essential part of the kora canon ever since Sidiki Diabate popularized it back in the '40s. Suso repeats the gently rolling melody and its constantly interlaced string counterpoint, gradually establishing a trance-like state and providing space for DeJohnette to expand and contract time. Yes, some of those cymbal triplets are definitely swinging. You might not notice it because the kora playing is so direct and regular, but Suso also plays with time in subtle and clever ways as he delivers each cascade of notes.

Other than "Kaira and the closing "Sunjatta Keita (a traditional piece named after the founder of the ancient Empire of Mali), the rest of these tunes are credited to Suso and/or DeJohnette (mostly both). Their hybrid music can't be easily labeled, since it's a product of both two separate cultures and two distinct individuals, but it's remarkably consistent.

The musicians wisely choose to occupy a middle zone of trance-like repetition where Suso can freely explore theme and variation, call and response, melody and counterpoint while DeJohnette does the same in his own polyrhythmic way on the drums. This is lyrical, flowing, hypnotic music that's best appreciated from a distance, lest you lose the forest for the trees and thus also sacrifice the golden opportunity to expand your mindspace in these rolling grooves.

Note: this is one of two inaugural releases on DeJohnette's brand new Golden Beams label. To learn more, visit Jack DeJohnette on the web.


Track Listing: Ocean Wave; Ancient Techno; Rose Garden; Worldwide Funk; Kaira; Mountain Love Dance; Party; Voice of the Kudrus; Sunjatta Keita.

Personnel: Jack DeJohnette: drums; Foday Musa Suso: kora and dousinguni.

Title: Music From The Hearts Of The Masters | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Golden Beams


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "As The Wind" CD/LP/Track Review As The Wind
by John Eyles
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "Functioning Broke" CD/LP/Track Review Functioning Broke
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Lookin' East" CD/LP/Track Review Lookin' East
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Cactus" CD/LP/Track Review Cactus
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "Dialectrical" CD/LP/Track Review Dialectrical
by John Sharpe
Published: June 19, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.