Djeli Moussa Diawara and Bob Brozman Ocean Blues

An American guitarist and a Malian musician - no, this isn't Talking Timbuktu part two, although the cynical record buyer might think so. Diawara (possibly better known when spelled as Jali Musa Jawara) is a gifted kora player, that angelic African harp that has the power to cast a spell over the listener. Bob Brozman is a Hawaiian-style guitarist, very skilled with the slide and with a great ear for picking his spots amidst the ecstatic kora figures. His vocal style is reminiscent of white man singing the blues, Steve Goodman. Regardless of the marketing potential of an album such as this, these are two well-matched musicians who are listening intently to one another. This record is far more intricately played than the Ry Cooder/Ali Farke Toure disc, and many times, the picking reminds more of the preserved Spanish medieval-isms of Madagascar than of West Africa. Even the scarily titled "Hip Hop" is a winner, with a basic hip-hop beat thumped out on the side of the guitar being a departure point for wild harmonic flights on the kora. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever heard a bad kora record. This is probably because the kora is the sacred, storytelling instrument of the griot and one has to be a master musician to carry it off. Diawara and Brozman tell some new stories here. (Meldodie)