Ashley Maher : Amina

CD [Cover Art for Ashley Maher / Amina] Your Price: $17.51
Availability: In Stock
Sell date: 6/2010
Label: CD Baby
Mfg's Catalog#: 5637629
CDC Part#: 1490820
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 Notes & Reviews
Singer ASHLEY MAHER (her surname, pronounced the real Irish way, rhymes with'star') is an original. Against all odds, she has created and safeguarded the kind of personal style that seems to elude so many musical artists - including many of the best in the world - when they take liberties across genre boundaries, or explore musical traditions into which they have not been born. Anything but facile, Maher's music approaches the gold standard set by the likes of Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, or Youssou N'Dour for an engagement with 'world music' at once challenging, thoughtful, respectful, and exuberant. Maher's love for Senegalese mbalax began 20 years ago, when Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal first burst onto the world stage. Living in London and signed to Virgin UK, Ashley was then beginning her own journey of collaborating with West African musicians in Paris, London, and Los Angeles; a journey that, over the course of recording five albums, steadily became more and more focused on mbalax. Maher's profound artistic involvement with the diverse musical cultures of Senegal was kindled by her decades-old friendship with Youssou N'Dour and but has recently grown into a vital nourishing component of her musical personality. In 2007, N'Dour released a song Maher co-wrote, 'Boul Bayekou', on his Nonesuch Records/Warner Music CD 'Rokku mi rokka (Give and Take)'. As a remarkably accomplished Senegalese sabar dancer, Maher has since shared the stage with N'Dour both in Dakar and at N'Dour's 'Great African Ball' at Paris' Bercy Arena. Maher calls her new album release, 'Amina' (her fifth, also produced by Andre Manga), 'my love song to Senegal.' Recorded in Dakar with five core members of N'Dour's legendary band, 'Les Super Etoiles' and in Los Angeles, it is, by any measure, one of the most graceful attempts ever by a Western musician to enter the Senegalese musical ethos and confront it on it's own terms. 'Amina' is the work of a mature artist passionate about applying her lyrical gifts (in English) to rhythms, harmonies, and colors inimitably Senegalese in just the perfect ways, and compassionate about the delicacy of the task. This - and her rare skills as a singer and songwriter - allowed her to carry out the task with verve. Today's popular music in Senegal, known in the Wolof language as mbalax, developed as a blend of the country's traditional griot percussion and praise-singing with the Afro-Cuban arrangements and flavors which made 'the return trip' from the Caribbean to West Africa in the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's and have flourished in West Africa ever since. Beginning in the mid-1970's the resulting mix was modernized with a gloss of more complex indigenous Senegalese dance rhythms, roomy and melodic guitar and saxophone solos, chattering talking-drum soliloquies and, on occasion, Sufi-inspired Muslim religious chant. This created a new music which was at turns nostalgic, restrained and stately, or celebratory, explosively syncopated and indescribably funky. The Ashley Maher of 'Amina' is, in all ways that should matter, an important inheritor of the mbalax tradition, even as she is obviously an innovator, extending the tradition beyond any previous boundaries. For years an ardent student of the intricate polyrhythmic vocabularies of Senegalese percussion and dance (both contemporary and traditional), Maher's dance sensibilities have afforded her a sure hand in the overall composition of 'Amina' and producer Manga's sympathetic touch never overpowers the mbalax heartbeat running through nearly the entire album. Key members of N'Dour's legendary Super Etoile band were on hand for Maher's critical recording sessions in Dakar, including guitarist Jimi Mbaye and three of the Super Etoile percussionists -talking drummer Assane Thiam, bougarabou (sabar) drummer Thio Mbaye, and trap drummer Abdoulaye Lo. Significantly, the response to Maher's daring effort with 'Amina' in Senegal itself (and in the burgeoning worldwide Senegalese Diaspora) has already begun to raise eyebrows and garner for Maher the respect she deserves. Senegal

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