Various Artists

African Elegant

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African Elegant Review

by John Storm Roberts

Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital, early developed a charming, calypso-like Creole-language palm-wine guitar music. The style's undisputed king was Ebenezeer Calendar, whose Maringar band (acoustic guitar, tuba, percussion) ruled the roost for 30 years. His gentle, extraordinarily catchy hits, on the order of "Jollof Rice" and "Arriah Baby," dominate this unique collection. Also present are several recordings by the Kru seamen who first developed the guitar style that was to travel via Ghana to the world, as well as some Mandingo and Mende groups with wonderfully eccentric brass playing.