[Sidebar] The Worcester Phoenix
December 17 - 24, 1999

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***1/2 Kaouding Cissoko


(Palm Pictures)

Listening to the recorded output of Senegalese star Baba Maal, you wouldn't know that Maal's kora man had Kora Revolution in him. But Kaouding Cissoko's solo debut shows off an impressive arranger and composer and a first-rate player. He recruits various relatives from his musical griot family, members of Maal's band (including Baaba himself on "Hero"), and bassist and arranger Ira Coleman. But what really fuels Cissoko's revolution is his openness to musical styles that complement his own Manding roots, including strains of jazz and Latin music, as well as the tough, sabar drumming of the Wolof and the percussion and flute music of northern Podor, Maal's home town. Cissoko stands up to the thunder of sabar drumming with lightning-fast kora work. He also delivers the delicate side of this 21-string harp. But grooves and flourishes are the hallmark of this fast-moving, idea-packed session.

-- Banning Eyre
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