Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet
The Kronos Quartet are busy bunch of people. In 2017 their desire to experiment with different forms of music took them to some distant and revealing places. They teamed up with a host of guest vocalists to record the album Folk Songs, finally got round to releasing music from their 'Landfall' project with Laurie Anderson and, most engaging of all, collaborated with the Malian musicians Trio Da Kali. Versatile is an understatement when describing the Kronos Quartet.
Trio Da Kali is a Malian supergroup which brings together the extraordinary singer Hawa Diabaté, with balafon (xylophone) player Fodé Lassana Diabaté, and the bass n’goni (lute) player Mamadou Kouyaté. The remarkable fusion of their music with that of the string quartet feels so natural, each giving the other space to express themselves and complimenting each other perfectly.
Opening song 'Tita' is introduced by a lone balafon before Diabaté enters with her soaring contralto vocals. Beyond the parameters of language, the passion expressed in her voice is all embracing. The Kronos Quartet know exactly when and how to weave in their string arrangement and just how to take the song to a higher plane. It's an enthralling piece of music.
The album brims with such sublime moments, but the most startling song is an aching interpretation of Mahalia Jackson's gospel number God Shall Wipe All Tears Away. It is a euphoric and divine experience.
Ladilikan is an extraordinary album. It is not just the unique bringing together of musical styles but the degree understanding that flows between the musicians. It is the most inspirational music that you will hear this year.
Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.
March sees a greatly expanded reissue of Elliott Smith's most critically acclaimed album Either/Or