Janna is the recording on which the extraordinary improvising cellist Ernst Reijseger collaborates with Senegalese poet and instrumentalist Mola Sylla and percussionist Serigne C.M. Gueye on a program of songs and poetry that erases the borders between European and African traditions and creates something entirely new from the ruins. This could only be accomplished if each member of this trio brought the entirety of his musical heritage with him to the table and placed it there to be heard, pillaged, reshaped, and molded by the fire of creation. From the opening "Jangelma," a song/poem that offers a scathing view of the education of Francophone Africans, Sylla's voice, intoning his words so deliberately and softly at first, is completely possessed by the increasing emotionalism in Reijseger's playing and begins to cry out his rage and sorrow. This is sharply contrasted with "Baba," a percussive hymn of gratitude where song, dance, and improvisation are all woven together. The interplay between percussion instruments and the cello played on "Sang Xale Man" ("Cover Me Up") is otherworldly in its articulation as soul music so rooted in antiquity it is impossible to believe it is a modern composition/improvisation. Each piece is somewhat extended. There are only eight selections here, totaling almost 70 minutes of playing time. Textures, dynamic, and tones are the musical concerns as they convey these gorgeous songs, poems, and stories without compromise or regard for ceremony. This is deeply, wonderfully, emotionally rendered exploratory music that cannot be classified, thank goodness.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek