Al Bilali Soudan – “Al Bilali Soudan” – [Clermont Music]
The band hails from Timbuktu and is composed of family and friends. Aballow Yattara, the leader, knows how to rock the West African instrument called tehardent, which is a three-stringed, fretless creature considered a precursor to the banjo. The percussion comes from the calabash, a half-gourd that has been hollowed. The music is intended to accompany traditional dance, and what I like about it is how upbeat it sounds. I can imagine stomping around to it wailing in sorrow or in joy, or both, attesting to a heritage of feeling and story that can best be expressed by the very music you hear on this CD.