25 September 2006

Monday's mp3: Fresh Fruit from Mamadou Diabate

I love this time of year. Yeah, the air is getting crisper and the light is gorgeous as the days grow shorter. Also our local newspaper runs breathtakingly obvious headlines like "Naked trees, cooler temps ahead."

But really, it's the food. Ripening all at once are apples, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peaches, basil, greens, fall raspberries, grapes...the list goes on. Yesterday I picked a load of Italian prunes, which variously ended up in the dehydrator, canning jars, or my stomach. I also plucked some wonderfully crisp apples, and apple pie is on the menu for tonight. Yesterday it was grapes, that became grape juice, or were eaten fresh, or will become grape jelly.
Mamadou Diabate
The dark shadow on this autumn bounty is the amount of waste I see. Many years ago, people planted fruit trees as a matter of course. Now many of those trees are neglected or ignored. The fruit I got yesterday was from several such trees. Even with folks like the local Gleaners Coalition working to collect and distribute surplus produce, much of it ends up on the ground. Sure, it gets composted back into the soil, but that doesn't help the folks who aren't getting enough to eat. Need and waste seem to be constant companions here in the USA.

Today's song is about fruit. Mamadou Diabate is a Mali-born, US-based kora player familiar to world music fans. His upcoming album Heritage features his instrumental group, which includes Guinean guitarist Mory Kante, balafon player Balla Kouyate, percussionist Baye Kouyate, and bassist Noah Jarrett. Diabate acknowledges a musical growth achieved by living in the US and playing with jazz musicians:

Playing jazz has developed my techincal skill and my improvisations. If I go too far, I lose the character of Mande music. But in jazz, I am free and that has changed me. In Mali I would not have these experiences. Living in the United States has made me a better musician.

But back to the harvest. "Djiribah" is a pentatonic tune that talks about "the big tree," which provides delicious fruit to the people. Elders are compared to that tree, for when they leave, it is a sad day for the people.

[mp3] Mamadou Diabate: "Djirbah"
from the forthcoming album Heritage (World Village, 2006)

Diabate's website
Diabate's previous solo kora CD is Behmanka (World Village, 2005)
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Locals in the news:Sean Williams, a local college instructor and musician who has appeared on Spin The Globe, has published The Ethnomusicologists' Cookbook, which emphasizes the connection between music and food by offering over 35 complete meals, from appetizers to entrees to side dishes to desserts and drinks. A list of recommended CDs fills out the culinary experience, along with hints on how to present each dish and to organize the overall meal. Listen for an interview with Williams about the book on an upcoming installment of KAOS shows Island Time (Mondays 10-noon) and Cover the Earth (Tuesdays 10-noon).

And the KAOS show Radio8Ball was featured this week on NPR's All Things Considered. While the concept of a quirky indie community radio show being touted by a major media outlet twists our brains into odd synaptic contortions, we're delighted for Andras and Tammy. Radio8Ball airs Tuesdays 6-8pm (and streams live via kaosradio.org).
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