Intense arrangements and rhythmic vibrancy is what we generally expect from Senegalese music and "Routes" is no exception. Kora player and vocalist Diali Cissokho is from a griot background and leads a five-piece American band, the North Carolina-based Kaira Ba. For their third album they traveled to his hometown of M'bour in Senegal where they laid down the sessions with the addition of some of Diali's local friends. Subsequently, in the US, they added American musicians and jazz and gospel vocalists to give the album a true boundary-busting flavour. There are some remarkable musical embellishments to enjoy in this session: dreamy pedal-steel guitar in 'Saya'; swirling organ in 'Badima'; splendid lead guitar, a string section and, inevitably, a mass of sabar drums and the ripples of the tama (talking drum).
As a band leader, Diali Cissokho has a commanding voice, and excellent kora skills; he is clearly a great composer with a visionary approach to the integration of other genres with his Senegalese roots. This album is up there with the groundbreaking recordings of Thione Seck, Baaba Maal and Youssou N'Dour.
TRACK TO TRY: 'Badima'