Our need to categorize, slot everything into a hole, has given rise – among many things – to the blandly named genre of ‘World’ music to fit all music falling outside the realms of modern English music (as if this latter is other-worldly). I don’t care much for that name, but I use it for convenience. What I do care for is the content that comprises it – for it is a whole, wide, delightful world.
As I’ve stated before elsewhere, I grew up listening to a lot of Indian classical music as a legacy of my mother’s side of the family before opening my ears to music from a wide array of genres. Fortunately, the years have not put a plug on them and I’m grateful for the continued opportunity to hear guitarists, vocalists, percussionists, styles from different parts of the world.
Blair Douglas’s love for the Gaelic music of his roots can be seen in its definite touch in the range of music that he has explored, be it Latin jazz or music from Africa. The first time I heard him on was the Scots stomp ‘The Landlord’s Walk’ and I still associate him with that piece of unbridled joy.
The genius of the late great Ali Farka Toure gave the guitar a different texture and context in his captivating use of the instrument to present to the world the folk music of Mali that was so dear to him as can be heard on ‘Tulumba’.
The large and hugely gifted gang at Afro Celt Sound System seamlessly meld the music of the Celts and the African continent. What has pleasantly surprised me is the consistency that they maintained over the years when it could’ve all faded the way of a novelty act. ‘Dark Moon, High Tide’ is but one example of the high musical calibre of this band.
‘Ragabop’ from the album ‘Be The Change’ – I could not help but slip this in, although this is in a way a misfit – for it is essentially jazz. But it comes with a generous dose of Indian classical music (how could I not feature this then?). When we were in college, he was always ‘Guitar’ Prasanna, the consummate player who was the showcase act in so many of the big college fests. Prasanna has since gone on to capture the imagination and garner the respect of a wider and international musical community.
I will force myself to close this set (for I could go on for a very long time) with one of my favorite artistes, Jesse Cook. This Canadian guitarist’s greatness lies not just in his playing but in the inclusiveness of his music, known as he’s for collaborating with musicians from across the globe. The foot-stomping ‘That’s Right!’ is a case in point, embellished as it is with the accordion work in the Cajun tradition by Stanley ‘Buckwheat’ Dural Jr.