Various Artists

African Blues

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One of the earlier entries on the market of African blues-inflected music offerings, this album from the folks at Rough Guide is most certainly African, but not particularly fusion in the sense of incorporating the American blues idiom. What one does have here, though, is a relatively early collection of the people that would in large be the most notable figures on the field of African music on the greater world market. Ismaël Lo opens up the album, followed by Rokia Traoré. After a couple of East African entries, the first true blues piece comes courtesy of Ali Farka Toure's hit "Heygana." The great mbira player Stella Chiweshe makes an appearance, as does Hamza el Din, with some bluesy riffs on the oud from the North. Boubacar Traoré puts in the second entirely valid piece of American-esque blues, and the team of Kante Manfila and Balla et Ses Balladins present an excerpt of the Kankan Blues phenomenon. Finishing the album are two more notables: Cape Verde's Césaria Évora, and Mali's up and coming Oumou Sangare, both worth hearing in their own right. Throughout, the album strays a bit from its most apparent mission, but the music remains worthwhile regardless. A fine choice for a quick sampler of the bigger names in African music.

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