27 October 2018 (released)
28 November 2018
The original meaning of ‘Griot’ comes from West Africa and describes: ‘a member of a class of travelling poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa.’ ‘Global Griot’ takes that status and widens it to musicians and writers from all over the world.
Eric Bibb has managed, in this landmark recording, to show just how widely spread is the influence of Blues music has spread and takes in musicians from the US, Mali, Senegal, Jamaica and recording sessions in France, Sweden, Ghana, the UK. And in typical Bibb manner, there is a feeling of togetherness, gentle delight and pure beauty that runs through the entire album.
It is absolutely not what most listeners would think of as Blues but in the musical styles you can hear the link between Malian Griot, through ‘Slave Holler’ Blues of the Southern USA and into reggae and modern day World Music.
This is also, in many respects, a protest album using the music from the many nations to exclaim about the injustices of the world and in fact the two covers here – Big Bill Broonzy’s ‘Black, Brown & White, and Ed McCurdy’s ‘Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream’ – were statements of the Civil Rights protests of the 60’s.
Personally, I find the way that Bibb incorporates influences from all over into his music, collaborating on 18 of the numbers here (aside from the two covers there are 4 traditional tunes including a gorgeous ‘Michael Row The Boat Ashore) and while a song may start in one form or another the other influences pervade so that you get an album or real variation and individuality.
No one track stands out from the rest – this is an album of real equality – but it is possible to dip in and out of the 2CDs and pull out a gem every time. If I had to pick one track that serves as a marker to a fresh listener I would probably go for ‘Human River’ or ‘We Don’t Care’. However, listening to the entire thing in one sitting does give one a real sense of the power of music.