Author: Nigel Williamson
Album and Artist Details
|Magazine Review Date:||June/2021|
In a way you could say Mathis spent more than 20 years making this album – even though he eventually recorded it in just three days. The American instrumentalist began taking kora lessons from members of the Jobarteh griot clan in the Gambia in 1997 and has been making regular trips for further instruction ever since. His studies on the oud began a little later in Istanbul and continued until he became a sought-after soloist and accompanist on both instruments, particularly in demand for film and dance projects.
His solo debut features his own instrumental compositions alternating between kora and oud and backed by the world jazz grooves of fellow New York-based musicians John Hadfield on drums and Sam Minaie on bass. It’s beautifully recorded and Mathis’ virtuosity is beyond question, as is his ability to absorb the deepest traditions of Malian and Arabic music and augment them with his own harmonic pyrotechnics and rhythmic flair. The ten tracks value energy and dynamism above the classical and more meditative qualities of both instruments – but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.