The Other Edge
Raaga Trio's debut album The Other Edge was released on the Anothershaperecords label in 2010. The band's name, incidentally, derives from the West African Morée dialect and means 'market.'
Since originally coming together in 2007, the Swiss-based Raaga Trio actually became a quartet in 2009 when harmonica player Guillaume Lagger joined guitarist and banjo player Andreas Fulgosi, n'goni, bass n'goni, tamani player and vocalist Andra Kouyaté and djembé player and percussionist Baba Konaté following a joint session.
On The Other Edge, Raaga Trio present essentially a blend of jazz and traditional West African music. These efforts don't always work particularly well, but these skilful musicians pull it off with panache and an album that is both subtle and exciting. Rather than following pre-conceived ideas, this music has grown organically out of the band's collective efforts and inspirations. All tracks are credited jointly to Raaga Trio.
The material is both well-conceived and well-presented, with a mix of western instruments (guitar, banjo - itself with African roots - and harmonica) and West African ones including n'goni, bass n'goni, tamani and djembé. The music itself is an organic-sounding blend of jazz - with sufficient jazz credibility - and West African, particularly Mandinka, music. The overall feel and sound of The Other Edge is somehow very bluesy. Yet, Raaga Trio have come up with something that is very exciting and fresh, often venturing into the experimental.
A remarkably consistent album, especially so for a debut, The Other Edge is also coherent and above all, extremely compelling. This is perhaps one of the most interesting jazz/West African music albums to emerge yet, and steering well clear of musical stereotypes it presents many a surprise. Refreshing as well as exciting, this album is also a highly enjoyable listen. An excellent debut effort.
Raaga Trio's The Other Edge is, quite simply, an absolute must have for any aficionado of any kind of Western and African fusion. It is strongly to be hoped that Raaga Trio will be seen and heard in the UK. A lot! Meanwhile, get the album!
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