The stunning Breton – Malian music of “N’Diale”

May 23, 2011

Once again it is thanks to my friends in dear old Blighty, Malachy O’Neill and David Flower that I made this discovery, which I can safely say is the best new album I’ve heard in a long time. One could argue that it’s the fact I’m half-Breton and massively into Malian music that these recordings resonate me with in some bizarre, primeval way, but honestly folks, this is plain and simply magical music.
Jacky Molard, one of the leaders of the Breton music scene for the past 20-30 years, put together his quartet with the Foune Diarra trio and has in doing so accomplished quite a feat – he’s rendered Breton music listenable 🙂 Ahem…sorry…not all Breton music is bad, but a lot of it can be very dire, repetitive, and whiny. Small nuance to be made – Molard and his group don’t actually play straight up Breton traditional music, but enjoy improvising and mixing it with other styles, which is what led them to the Foune Diarra trio in the first place.
Virtuosic musicianship, complex 6 over 4 rhythms, singing that sounds at once Malian and Breton (as if Breton sailor songs were being sung in Bambara!), and beautiful production quality all make for a hybrid music album that feels totally organic, uncontrived, and full of energy. You can’t smell the Nick Golds and other world music producers behind the scenes making things happen artificially (even if they are there) as was the case with Afrocubism.
This is the direction more and more folk/world/traditional/jazz musicians should be taking – marrying different ancient musical languages and creating something equally ancient sounding yet radically new. If I could make an album like this at some point before I die, my soul will rest in utter contentment!

Here is a video of the making of the project:

Track 1 off the album:

Kelemagny – Jacky Molard Quartet & Foune Diarra Trio “N’Diale”

Track 7:

Makaribana – Jacky Molard Quartet & Foune Diarra Trio “N’Diale”

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2 Responses to “The stunning Breton – Malian music of “N’Diale””

  1. Liz Schelper Says:

    Indeed a surprise! Very bright, energetic and pleasing marriage of two very ancient traditions in music that carry a ballance few would be able to manage. For people unused to hearing African tonality this is a great introduction. For those who would be bored with the Celtic drones, what a lively repartee! Those who like Cajun music will find a new treasure here.


  2. […] of some interesting collaborations including the Breton-Malian music “N’Diale” (see my previous post). From the same label comes Erik Marchand‘s Breton-Romanian mash-up with several different […]


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