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Sunnyside Releases Roswell Rudd's & Toumani Diabate's MALIcool


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In the late 20th century, jazz artists like Herbie Hancock, Jean-Luc Ponty, Hank Jones and Randy Weston have performed and recorded with West African musicians. Now, at the dawn of the 21st century, the legendary jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd joins forces with the great Malian kora master, Toumani Diabate on their groundbreaking new CD, MALIcool.

The project was recorded in Mali's bustling, Afro-Islamic capital, Bamako in 2001, after a successful concert in the city's French Cultural Center. Rudd's robust trombone tones and Diabate's 21-stringed, harpish kora solos are supported by an outstanding group of Malian musicians from the celebrated jeli caste. Lassana Diabete performs on the balofone, the wooden, xylophonic ancestor of the vibraphone; Basseko Kouyate plays the lute-like ngone, the prototype for the African-American banjo. Augmented by guitarist Sayon Sissoko and djembe drummer, Sekou Diabate, MALIcool is an excellent example of the marry jazz phrasing and improvisation to ancient African instruments, rhythms and musical forms. As Rudd wrote in the CD's liner notes, “the sound of the strings and the balafon in MALIcool is a continuum with the introduction of breaks in Toumani's music to mark off improvised episodes. This gives each soloist a chance to play to the thoughtful limit of his creativity before passing along the opportunity to another soloist."

Evidence of that “open form" dialog exists on all of ten tracks on MALIcool. From Toumani Diabate's processionally-pulsed “Rosmani," and the reggae-fied “Hank," with Mamadou Kouyate and Dala Diabate, to Rudd

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