JUSTIN ADAMS & JULDEH CAMARA (Gambia/UK)
WINNER - CULTURE CROSSING
Justin Adams is a busy man – he has produced all three of Malian desert blues band Tinariwen’s acclaimed albums, holds down a day job as guitarist in Robert Plant’s band, occasionally leads The Wayward Sheikhs (a rock band that experiment with Arabic scales) and regularly extends his musical talents to outside projects. A notable one is Soul Science, a new album he has recorded with Juldeh Camara, a master of the riti (or nyanyeru), a one-string violin that originates with the Fulani people and is played across West Africa.
Gambian musician Juldeh Camara grew up learning riti from his blind father, Serif, a master of the riti. As an adult he has worked with musicians across West Africa, the US and Europe. These include Ifang Bondi (for the past 30 years one of West Africa's leading electric bands), Norwegian guitarist Knut Reiersrud and British r'n'b artist Dee Ellington. His recording debut in 1990 was for Bill Laswell's Axiom label, co-produced by Laswell and Foday Musa Suso. Throughout the summer of 2003 he worked at The National Theatre, London, making music for the acclaimed play Elmina's Kitchen by Kwame Kwei-Armah.
Adams had released a solo album, Desert Road, in 2000, demonstrating his fascination with West African guitar styles. Some observers suggested that while Adams was a fine guitarist his vocals left much to be desired. It’s appropriate then that when considering a second solo album he sort out a musical partner from West Africa who could sing. Fortuitously, Juldeh had a cassette of Desert Road that he would regularly play along with. Adams’ experience of making music with Tinariwen gave him a real appreciation for the dynamic textures of Juldeh’s playing.
Soul Science is the result of this collaboration between an English rock guitarist and a Gambian riti player. Listening to them play off one another you hear cultures sharing and forging a tough, edgy sound: blues rock mating with West Africa’s elemental, ancient string groove.
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