Thursday, November 08, 2007


Les Frères Guissé are three brothers from Senegal with a light, harmonious approach to music-making. Siré appears to have been recorded a couple of years ago and is full of pleasant, melodious music, the brothers' combined voices possessing a sweet tone which floats over gentle, mid-tempo acoustic rhythm guitar and percussion. A guest appearance from American jazz singer Jennifer Chase adds a welcome bluesy edge to Anta Majigen Ndiaye, but more changes of pace and timbre would help maintain interest, a point underlined by the stirring sound of the a cappella song P'tit ecolier, which comes marching out of the speakers to round off proceedings.
There's plenty of variety to the brothers' collaboration with Dutch folk singer Leoni Jansen and her band. From delicate arrangements of traditional folk tunes (Swallow, Redwinged Blackbird from Europe, Slaves Lament from Senegal) to Guissé originals spiced with elements of jazz, Cuban son and rock (including some ear-shatteringly horrible wailing jazz-rock guitar on Canto del Amor, unfortunately), the combination of the Senegalese singers' tight harmonies and Jansen's vivid vocals (similar in tone but slightly lighter than that of the Mekons' Sally Timms) makes for an interesting - if only intermittently successful - experiment.

This review first appeared in fRoots magazine.

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