Ballaké Sissoko / Vincent Segal Chamber Music

Ballaké Sissoko / Vincent Segal Chamber Music
It's hard to believe that this gorgeous album had to wait a year-and-a-half for a North American release. Such are the arcane ways of world music marketing where, counter intuitively, coordinated worldwide release dates are fairly rare. No matter, it's here now and it's just the thing for a cold winter season. Segal is a classical cellist and Sissoko is one of the most prominent kora players in the world. Together, they meditate deeply on the possibilities in their instruments and partnership. It's a quiet affair ― Chamber Music, indeed ― rooted first and foremost in Malian song forms. Both are familiar with non-traditional means of playing and Segal, in particular, adeptly coaxes percussive noises and string scrapes from his cello before diving into the elliptical rhythms that are the hallmark of kora playing. Likewise, Sissoko understands European melodic and harmonic expression, making experimental ideas sound perfectly natural, even soothing. Every track is a joy, whether as mood-setting music or as a deep listening experience, but special mention must go to the spellbinding "Wo Ye N'Gnougobine" and the mellow, romantic "Future." (Six Degrees)