CD Reviews & Info
Of late, a handful of American artists have explored the connection between West African music and American blues, but Markus James has lived this connection for the past seven years (and four albums). "Snakeskin Violin" continues his profound world blues passage. Working, as usual, with several Malian players, including Hassi Sare (njarka violin), Mamadou Sidibe (calabash, vocals), Vieux Farka Toure (cadence guitar) and Mama Sissoko (n'goni), James laid down tracks in Mali, California and Mississippi. His songs radiate a dark, nearly forbidding glow, while his sparse, shadowy arrangements cut a groove that draws deeply from the hypnotic vibe of Malian music. "All That You Can't Keep," "Exile Tracks" and "I Won't Let It" are extremely distinctive pieces, driven by a seductive rhythmic circularity that's a keystone of Malian traditional tunes and Delta blues. —Philip Van Vleck
"profound world blues passage... extremely
distinctive pieces, driven by a seductive rhythmic circularity that's a
keystone of Malian traditional tunes and Delta blues."
Man, I couldn't stop smiling as I listened to this CD. I love the way James has re-combined these musical heritages that obviously have a common background but then adapted on different continents. The traditional musicians that back him up sound so good, and the mix of traditional and modern instrumentation seems so appropriate. I got this record yesterday and have listened to it start to finish 4 times, but cut 6, All That You Can't Keep, I've played at least 20 times! This is great stuff if your taste leans toward the adventurous.
Markus has performed at the Festival In The Desert 3 times, and in 2007, was invited to perform at the series of Jamal Poi tribute concerts for his friend and inspiration, Ali Farka Toure, in Bamako and Niafounke, which were broadcast on Malian national television.
Markus' new album "Snakeskin Violin" is a kaleidoscopic journey in which fellow travelers appear and vanish, and features collaborations with trance groove Wassoulou hunters in Bamako, a shaman in Timbuktu, old-school drummers in Como, Mississippi, traveling Tamasheks in California, and African Diaspora musicians in the US.
"Gobissa" by Markus James