Thursday, March 03, 2011

Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal

Lately, I have been finding a lot of pleasure in Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal's Chamber Music, an album in which they combine African and European culture, with Ballake Sissoko playing the kora and Vincent Segal playing the cello. Go to YouTube if you want to hear samples of the music. I found myself often returning to those clips on YouTube and eventually downloaded the album from Amazon.

The kora, or African harp, is a new discovery for me. My first exposure occurred when I was introduced to the music of Rachael Gladwin, who plays kora on Nat Birchall's Guiding Spirit.

Chamber Music is fascinating because of the interplay between the musicians. One instrument often maintains the rhythm initially while the other one plays the lead before the instrument creating the rhythm then takes the lead. Each musician is a virtuoso. This mastery shows. Vincent Segal surprised his audience in the NPR studio when he started plucking the strings of his cello as if he were playing a lute. Although classified as international, aka world music, Chamber Music contains improvisational elements and has been reviewed by some of the jazz websites. The music here is truly beautiful and worth seeking out.