"Tri-Continental" - 2000
2. Scarecrow Murders
4. Red Moon
5. These Blues
6. Bill Miner
8. The Chant
9. The House
10. Precious Love
11. Yesterday is Gone
3 x 1 = .... ONE? Now that sounds like a wrong calculation in a mathematical sense, but transfered to this new musical project coming from three astounding Canadian guitarists and vocalists it does seem to make sense artistically. And thats because the music to be discovered on TRI-CONTINENTAL melts three highly individual voices into one collective and wonderful new voice: a new voice that almost effortlessly combines musical styles of different origin with an attitude of dedication and playfulness. With this collective spirit, TRI-CONTINENTAL ties up to other successful blues/folk/worldmusic fusions of recent times, especially since the music on the album is fueled by a spirit of mutual friendship and respect. Its the same kind of spirit that seems to be present on many of Ry Cooders recent collaborations and its a cornerstone of this record as well.
TRI-CONTINENTAL is nothing less than a triple word-play, first of all. On the musical geography level, the three players Bill Bourne, Lester Quitzau and Madagascar Slim (a.k.a. Ben Randriamananjara) each accentuate different styles from different musical continents: While Ben Bourne likes to draw on his Celtic and folk influences, Lester Quitzau is first and foremost a remarkably open-minded bluesman. Last but not least, Madagascar Slim combines the musical traditions of his African homeland with blues-inspired playing of a truly individual nature. Level no. 2 might even refer to "Continental" as a brand name for resonator guitars but it certainly refers to the "Tri-Cone" metal horns used for creating the one-of-a-kind sound of resonator guitars. Instruments that have always occupied a central place in many bluesmens consciousness from Blind Lemon Jefferson to Taj Mahal. The quite attractive but more profane level no. 3 points us to the somewhat stylish vehicle to be found on the cover of this album. Its Bill Bournes favorite car his 68 Lincoln Continental...
So what does TRI-CONTINENTAL sound like?
Anyone familiar with recent work by artists like Chris Whitley or Eric Bibb will appreciate the intense vibe on this album. Despite all the stylistic diversification, its a musical mosaic of great intensity and immense consistency recorded live in the studio. These guys are curious and know how to listen, they communicate and project a sense of emotional directness on each of the albums eleven tracks. There is 12-bar-forms in the disguise of country spirituals, tasteful fingerstyle and slide work on every corner and folk blues gems à la Mississippi John Hurt are being brought into the present. Tight and atmospheric percussion patterns are used to embellish the fascinating complexity of Malagassy rhythms. The vocal arrangements are concise and to the point. There is hypnotising improvisation next to inventive guitar arrangements and the music creates a very soulful and spiritual atmosphere. Its the creation of a new collective voice out of three individual ones that can be witnessed here. Its a process thats a joy to hear.
TRI-CONTINENTAL invites you to discover a truly special modern blues/folk/world music fusion.