Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - Dan Bilawsky
AmankT Dionti is the most curiously beautiful record to hit shelves in the first half of 2012. Senegalese kora master Ablaye Cissoko and German trumpeter Volker Goetze have created a warm, engrossing, transcendent album that's glazed over with stark beauty and slight reverb, making it sound like a meeting of West African ideals and ECM-style production values.
Goetze and Cissoko first crossed paths while performing in the African-European Jazz Orchestra, opening shows for Youssou N'Dour in 2001. Their friendship blossomed from there, but it took a good number of years before they explored their musical partnership on record. Sira (Oliq Sound, 2008) hinted at the possibilities inherent in this pairing, but both men were still feeling each other out at that point. Since the release of that album, they've had the opportunity to perform together on numerous occasions, deepening their connection and furthering their abilities to complement one another.
Goetze uses his brandy-glazed trumpet tones to warm up the environment and enhance the emotional resonance in Cissoko's playing, but it's Cissoko who create the environments themselves. He takes on the role of the griot - telling stories, setting scenes and providing oral history through music - while Goetze acts as the colorist, shading around the borders of the pieces. Cissoko addresses the de facto enslavement of poor women-turned-maids in his home country ("AmankT Dionti") and the destruction and devastation visited upon the Haitian people ("Haiti"), but the topics at hand aren't always so heavy. ... read more...
Personnel: Ablaye Cissoko (vocals, kora); Ablaye Cissoko & Volker Goetze (trumpet); Volker Goetze (vocals, kora).
Audio Mixer: Connie Ende.
Liner Note Authors: Ablaye Cissoko; Ablaye Cissoko & Volker Goetze; Volker Goetze.
Recording information: Église Titon, Paris, France (09/2011).
Photographer: Youri Lenquette.
The mix of kora -- the West African 21-string harp -- and trumpet might be unusual, but in this instance the pairing works. Ablaye Cissoko comes from a griot family, born into the caste of musicians, singers, and storytellers, while Goetze comes from more of a jazz background. This second collaboration between the two has the hushed, meditative aspect of some chamber music, allowing plenty of space between the notes. The pair is joined by percussion for "Silo," which ups the tempo a little, but this is music at a leisurely, reflective pace, introspective, where each note has value and consideration. There's great beauty in it, the musicians listening to each other and trading ideas back and forth. Goetze uses different trumpets and mutes for different textures and effects, drawing out the notes and letting them hang or putting in soft, melodic lines. Cissoko's kora and voice provide a gentle bed for it all, although he can spring out, notes rippling like a waterfall at times. It's a remarkably warm, graceful disc, one to clear the mind and inspire the senses. ~ Chris Nickson
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