Folk & Afro Jazz
The Denmark resident Gambian musician and composer Dawda Jobarteh is one of the biggest enrichments to the Scandinavian world music scene. He not only amplifies his instrument, the kora, a traditional West African pentatonic harp and puts it through effects loops and distortion sounds to transfer it masterfully into the here and now - as a wanderer between the cultural heritages of West Africa as well as Northern Europe he is equally at home in both worlds. Out of that background he skilfully creates a highly unique sound universe between folk and afro jazz from two very different musical traditions, drawing on influences from two century-long historical cultures while still being firmly rooted in the modern age.
Nowhere is this more apparent than on his most recent third album „I Met Her By The River“, that marks a milestone in Jobarteh's artistic development. Symbolical for this stands his interpretation of „Jeg Gik Mig Ud En Sommerdag“ an ancient Scandinavian melody from the 17th century, which Jobarteh tranfers to his instrument, the kora, a West African pentatonic harp, making it sound like an old West African song as well as Adele´s „Hello“, that suddenly sounds like having a Gambian origin instead of that of a producer‘s studio in the Hollywood Hills. His fearless approach briefly sparks in his version of Mongo Santamaria‘s „Afro Blue“ that sounds as if Jimi Hendrix just had a try on it.
But Jobarteh´s execellence is clearly not limited to music: As a scion of West Africa‘s most famous griot family, whose career as a professional percussionist started at the age of 12, Jobarteh was born into a family tree with decades of musical heritage. In the tradition of the griots, the musicians, not unlike the blues singers, not only have the duties of keeping the music alive, but also to preserve and tell historic tales . So it´s of little wonder that Jobarteh's lyrics are as empathetic and wise as the music of this man oscillating between the cultural contrasts of his adopted Northern European home and his West African native on his tours around the globe.
If you take a look at Jobarteh´s previous development, it becomes crystal clear that one of West Africas biggest musical treasures lies in Scandinavia!
"...Jobarteh has absorbed all the virtuosity and values of his ancestors. But on 'I Met Her By The River' he takes his griot heritage into bold new territory on a kora adventure that is both audacious and thrilling." (Songlines)."
Small Line Up: Trio (3 musicians)
Big Line Up: Quartet (4 musicians)
Home Country: Denmark
Travel Party: 4-5