Friday, August 22, 2008

Review -- JAYME STONE & MANSA SISSOKO -- Africa To Appalachia

Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko

The title of this one suggests the listener is in for something different here, and the CD doesn't disappoint on that assumption.
The music of Appalachia is that of folk, bluegrass and roots, with the banjo a key instrument, one you don't think of when you think of African music, yet here the two come together.
Jayme Stone, one of Canada's best young banjo players said the idea for the CD came about when he learned the banjo has its roots in West Africa.
Mansa Sissoko is from Mali in Africa where he is steeped in the traditional music of that country and continent.
While seemingly from extremely different musical worlds, Stone and Sissoko bring them together skillfully.
Some of the pieces here are strongly African, including lyrics sang in the language of Mali, such as on the lead cut Bibi and then on Djula. While the African vocals are a mystery, that should not scare away the listener as it simply provides an opportunity to enjoy the music of a culture most of us will never experience first hand.
Other pieces have a more familiar sound, with tighter ties to Appalachia. For example June Apple is a traditional number arranged by Stone, as is the cut Tree To Tree.
The interest here is how easily two diverse musical cultures can come together so seamlessly. It becomes rather evident the music has developed from a single root, albeit on different sides of the Atlantic over more than a century.
The coming together of the two musical cultures is one that should be enjoyed. Seek this one out for something amazingly different, fresh, exciting and just plain good.
Check it out at

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Aug. 13, 2008 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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