The premier CD of Dallam-Dougou
is called New Destiny, and it covers a lot of ground. This is world dance
music, ranging from the proudly joyous track "Oy yoy yoy" to
Transylvanian party rhythms to a soulful mid-tempo West Africa groove
with a baroque Courante twist on "JSB Meets Mande Jeli."
Most of the nine tracks are original compositions by bandleader Raul
Rothblatt, but the border between purely traditional and boldly original
ends up being irrelevant.
The first few seconds of the CD introduce all the elements to come: an
energetic Hungarian Gypsy riff lays the groundwork for the rest of the
rhythm, and it is quickly joined by acoustic bass and drums. Then comes
a clarinet solo that is wild but never loses the sense of dance. Then
comes a balafon (the West African ancestor of the xylophone) which leads
the group the main melody and is lyrical, and not afraid to meander. But
this is only one way to listen to this. You could focus on the ethnographic
elements, and marvel in the fact that the tune is a Guinean and jazz interpretation
of a rhythm inspired by the Hungarian Roma (a.k.a. Gypsy) band from Szazcsavasz
in Transylvania who are interpreting a Turkish rhythm. Or maybe you just
like the vibe.
The second track is a traditional Romanian suite from Transylvania. The
mood is slow and elegiac with an expressive alto sax solo over an enveloping
string foundation. After luxuriating in the slow section, the piece moves
to a faster dance rhythm called an învîrtitâ, in a bouncy
7/8ish beat. This is the only track that is traditional in both its melody
and arrangement, and like much of the music from this region, there are
no drums so the rhythmic drive comes from the bass instrument. "The
Romanian Învîrtitâ is my favorite rhythm," explains
Raul, "and it took restraint to have only one on this CD."
The title track honors the Kouyate family-the most prestigious of the
musicians/historians known as griots who have made West Africa famous
for its stunningly beautiful music. A griot melody is the basis for a
vocal improvisation by Abdoulaye Diabate from Mali, but the arrangement
is completely original using a lush, driving string-based sound. He sings
in the Malinke language about the trip that Raul Rothblatt and Abou Sylla
made to the Sosso Bala, the oldest xylophone in the world. This 13th-century
instrument was once owned by Sundiata, the greatest emperor in West African
history, and the Kouyate family has preserving it and playing it for the
last 800 years. Seeing this instrument made a great impression on Raul,
and it reaffirmed his belief that even though so many cultures are being
threatened, we can take control of our future if we preserve the past.
Part of the profits of the CD go to the Kouyate family and to Niagassola,
the impoverished village in Guinea housing the Sosso Bala.
Now! (from CDBaby.com)