Album reviews

FlamenKora – ‘FlamenKora’

FlamenKora – FlamenKora
(Motema. Album review by Sebastian Scotney)

FlamenKora is the name of the trio of three musicians from very different heritages: German-born, NYC-based trumpeter (and instigator) Volker Goetze, “rising Madrid flamenco guitar sensation” Alejandro Moreno and Senegalese-born, Paris-based kora master and singer Ali Boulo Santo Cissoko.

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FlamenKora is also the title of their debut album. This is beautiful, reflective, soulful music resulting from the confluence of their traditions. As Goetze has written his aim is to create “timeless and enchanting multicultural music”. It flows gently and naturally. One thing I know for certain: I am asked each year to do a selection of albums for the JAZZTHETIK magazine in Germany, and a category which I have sometimes struggled to fill is “spätnachts” (late night listening). I am thinking about it six months early, but it is already clear to me that FlamenKora will be going straight in.

Volker Goetze as instigator and producer is not new to either Senagalese Mande music or flamenco.

On the African side he worked extensively with another Senegalese kora master, Ablaye Cissoko. They made albums as a duo, starting in 2008, and Goetze has also directed a film documentary about Ablaye Cissoko. The most successful of the albums the made was Amanké Dionti (meaning “I am not your slave girl”, also released on Motema) and streams from that album run into the many millions.

Goetze has also delved into the tradition of Flamenco, and notes that “Mande music […] also includes some of the deepest African roots of flamenco.” He has gone with that belief, and has integrated the melodic structures to the point where it is all pretty seamless.

Noting that the album title “Amanké Dionti” from 2012 was translated, and the theme of injustice inflicted on trafficked girls was mentioned in the materials makes me reflect that, a decade on, the press materials do not give any song titles or synopses. I am probably going against an inevitable worldwide trend towards de-contextualisation of music, but I would really like to know what is being sung about…

With that reservation, I can only recommend this album. Goetze once studied with Markus Stockhausen, and it is good to see the older trumpeter’s spiritual, holistic, often other-worldly theories about “healing sound” being made into such a delicate and exquisite work.

FlamenKora is released on 9 June. Album page at Motema Music

Categories: Album reviews, Reviews

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