Mali in Oak

Reviewed on Mon 07 Aug, 2017

The result is spellbinding, both for the exquisite delicacy of the music and the relaxed but no less impressive virtuosity of the two soloists.

Recorded live in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London during a series of concerts curated by guitarist John Williams, this is a bewitching meeting of stringed instruments of strikingly varied timbres and traditions. A collaboration between Nigerian kora player and cellist Tunde Jegede and South African guitarist Derek Gripper, the focus is on the vibrant griot bardic tradition drawn from the Mandé peoples of West Africa. The result is spellbinding, both for the exquisite delicacy of the music and the relaxed but no less impressive virtuosity of the two soloists. Sublime themes that dance around each other like sparkling fireflies with balletic grace produce rounded threads of continuous counterpoint, Jegede’s kora harp-like in its lustrous delicacy, Gripper’s guitar blending seamlessly to entrancing, often hypnotic, effect. Gorgeous recorded sound (a real treat on headphones) and beautiful presentation with good notes and full-colour photos make this as rewarding as it is pleasurable.
–Michael Quinn