Justin Vali / Justin Vali Trio

The Truth (NY Marina)

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AllMusic Review by

Here is an album of intricate valiha work from a new master of the uniquely Malagassy instrument. Justin Rakotondrosoa has innovated the traditional instrument's playing style by using his fingernails instead of the usual fingertips. What this provides is a crisper sound that's vaguely akin to the kora of West Africa. Aside from this innovation, the music is reminiscent rhythmically and melodically of some South Pacific styles. This is Malagassy music rooted in tradition, although it has been updated to fit the sounds that Western ears are waiting for. This isn't the political music of Mahaleo or the dance rhythms of Tarika Sammy. This is nearly pure Malagassy music at its best. The curious listener would do well to look into this album upon their first investigation into Malagassy music. There are other styles to be enjoyed as well, but this trio provides the best look at the gray area between the traditional and modern genres of Malagassy music.

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