In Search of the Lost Riddim

According to Senegalese star Baaba Maal, reggae’s heartbeat rhythm
descended from the Yela songs sung by his countrywomen as they
pound grain by hand. It could well be the rhythm of record on this
roots rendezvous, which Jamaican guitar virtuoso Ernest Ranglin
recorded with Maal and other notable Senegalese musicians during a
visit to Dakar. A jazz-picking pro since 1948, Ranglin’s career
spans ska (which he at least partially invented,) rock steady and
Bob Marley’s band.

Unlike the jazzed-up reggae of Ranglin’s marvelous 1996 album,
Below the Bassline, or the equally jazzy memento Ranglin
rediscovered on last year’s Memories of Barber Mack, most of
Lost Riddim is devoted to extended tribal grooves over which
Ranglin flits and flows with inventive grace. St. Thomas drummer
Dion Parson adds a Caribbean lilt to a large, melodic percussion
section, while Ranglin successfully enmeshes himself in glittering
tapestries woven by a 21-stringed kora, the three-stringed hoddu
lute and the xylophonic balafon, with Maal and longtime accompanist
Mansour Seck joining in on acoustic guitars. What could have been
an intercontinental train wreck shapes up as a mellow intercultural
homecoming. Palm Pictures 2001.FromEscape(Nov., 1999.) Subscriptions: $18/yr. (4 issues)
from Box 462255, Escondido, CA 92046.

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