Friday, April 10, 2009

Too Much Information

Rounding up a few weeks worth of writing...

"Do I have any idea what a kora looks like? Thing is huge!" said James Keast, Exclaim's editor in chief, upon seeing this photo of Mansa Sissoko.

The brilliant, pure sound of the kora is heard more and more frequently these days, but the instrument itself is quite imposing up close, and is best experienced in an intimate setting.

Sissoko was an engaging subject for Exclaim's "What I Play" column this month. The twist for me was conducting the interview in French, something I've done only a few times before (but it's helped land interviews with the likes of Tinariwen and Salif Keita). In a serendipitous coincidence, after pitching this idea for quite some time, the article came out two days after Sissoko and Jayme Stone won a well deserved Juno award.

Also in Exclaim this month, I have an article about the other Washington/Kenya connection - Extra Golden, whose third album is their deepest southern fried benga yet. On the Exclaim website is a transcription of an interview with legendary reggae producer Niney The Observer. Other 'Conversations' in the past couple of months have been with Luke Quaranta of Toubab Krewe, and Reid Anderson of The Bad Plus.

At Eye Weekly, I recently wrote about Iraqi-American trumpet player Amir ElSaffar (had to arrange an interview with him as he participated in a festival in Baku, Azerbaijan!). Last month, I had the pleasure of speaking with avant-klezmer pianist Marilyn Lerner, whose work I've long admired.

Finally I have a guest post at Carl Wilson's Zoilus. It's my highly subjective list of notable Canadian reggae singles. It was an interesting exercise, since I don't think that this country's best reggae music is represented on singles.

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