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cd cover Afrissippi
Fulani Journey
Knockdown South Records (www.afrissippi.com)

Senegalese native and North Mississippi transplant Guelel Kumba plays amplified acoustic guitar and sings in Fulani. Able backing comes from guitarist and Junior Kimbrough apprentice Eric Deaton, Kimbrough's son Kinney (drums), R.L. Burnside's grandson Cedric (drums), a host of North Mississippi session men, and other guests including Memphis sax-flute journeyman Herman Green (Lionel Hampton, B.B. King, Miles Davis) and activist-poet-jazz historian-promoter-DJ John Sinclair (of MC5 and White Panther fame, and a New Orleans resident since the early 1990s).

Recorded in Clarksdale and Oxford, Afrissippi's Fulani Journey springs (per the band's web site) from the "hill country boogie and cotton patch trance blues" tradition. The description is apt enough for Kumba's modal guitar drone and soaring vocals. A world-weary Sinclair uncorks extended spoken-word diatribes on Fulani history, the transatlantic slave trade, and the blues on "Njulli-Fulani Journey" and the video bonus track. Independent releases like this one are the happy product of digital technology's democratic overture, and Fulani Journey's idiosyncratic vitality suggests that the blues in its many guises will continue to find its own way, looking back while moving forward. - Michael Stone

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