Following both Chamber Music and Musique De Nuit albums, on which Sissoko conversed exclusively with cello player Vincent Ségal, the new offering Djourou sees the guests expanding, from Camille to Salif Keita to Oxmo Puccino. Sissoko’s desire was to blend solo kora pieces with collaborations with unexpected artists with very little in common with the Mandinka musical genre for which his griot caste is celebrated. Indeed ‘Djourou’ means string in Bambara – a nod not just to the 21 strings of a kora, but also to the ties that connect Sissoko to his collaborators on the album. All these duets give some really fresh new variations on the celestial and enchanting moods of kora music.
Sissoko sought out fellow kora master Sona Jobarteh (from Gambia) with a specific wish to connect with the younger generation of kora players, and to reconnect with their common forebears. Their interplay on ‘Djourou' is nothing short of breathtaking, heavenly music. A true moment of suspended time.
On ‘Jeu sur la Symphonie Fantastique’, Vincent Ségal comes back accompanied by clarinetist Pierre Massina for a sublime reimagining of Berlioz, while the always exciting Camille accompanies Sissoko’s majestic kora playing with due restraint, whispering breathlessly and poetically on ‘Kora’.
‘Mande Tabolo’ is a hypnotic and catchy solo performance by Sissoko, before French hip hop royalty Oxmo Puccino makes a fascinating appearance on ‘Frotter Les Mains’, rapping about the hands of the kora player as well as those of the ancestors’. Finally, the spellbinding ballad ‘Kadidja’, on which Anglo-Italian Piers Faccini sings in Bambara, closes the set in beautiful meditative fashion. While this might displease purists of a certain kind, Sissoko has once again opened new doors for kora music, and for music in general. A real success.