When Foday Musa Suso teamed with drummer Hamid Drake in the ‘80s to form the Mandingo Griot Society, the usage of kora and the American drum kit was a novelty, and successfully but precariously placed the traditions of African village music and jazz oriented polyrhythms in a new place. Suso and the veteran drummer Jack DeJohnette team up in duets that do not juxtapose, but complement the rhythmic strengths of the different instruments, creating a language of their own. Suso is happy to play the vibrant shimmering melodies his 21-string instrument uniquely brings to the table, while DeJohnette adopts a sensitive, supportive rather than similarly melodic role, forming funky beats, cymbal accents, and colorations that shade rather than drive the music.
For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world. Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an opulent yet oppressive life in the palace. But her husband has since died and she relishes her newfound independence. When a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the macabre death, even if her own freedom is threatened.
Over the last 15 years Secret Garden has sold over a million albums in the U.S. and an additional 4 million outside. From their first CD Songs From a Secret Garden which featured Nocturne, through albums White Stones and Dawn of a New Century , and Once in a Red Moon , the group has had a consistent presence on the U.S. charts. Their songs have been successfully covered by Barbra Streisand ( Heartstrings / I ve Dreamed Of You), Josh Groban and II Divo ( You Raise Me Up ), among others.
Rock music's first two-LP box set, A Gift from a Flower to a Garden overcomes its original shortcomings and stands out as a prime artifact of the flower-power era that produced it. The music still seems a bit fey, and overall more spacy than the average Moody Blues album of this era, but the sheer range of subjects and influences make this a surprisingly rewarding work. Essentially two albums recorded simultaneously in the summer of 1967, the electric tracks include Jack Bruce among the session players. The acoustic tracks represent an attempt by Donovan to get back to his old sound and depart from the heavily electric singles ("Sunshine Superman," etc.) and albums he'd been doing — it is folkier and bluesier (in an English folk sense) than much of his recent work. ~ Bruce Eder
For drummer Jack DeJohnette's second project on his fledgling Golden Beams Productions record label, he moves from the Asian subcontinent south to Africa for a series of duets with master Gambian kora player Foday Musa Suso.