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I love the music of Mali--the home of Timbuktu and some really amazing musicians. Their music and its five-tone scale is supposed to be the roots of the Blues. Though the slave trade was mostly a coastal event (Mali is land-locked), wars in the area resulted in prisoners who ended up on slave ships heading for America. The rich Mali music tradtion may have created our American blues.
Here, side by side, Mali musicians play their music with a mix of electric guitar and traditional harp-lute along with cuts by John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. The music is arranged cleverly--you can hear the similarities quite clearly. But aside from being interesting historically, this music is just plain great to hear. The cd has fascinating liner notes, too.
I've already played this twice through just out of the box, and I know this is going to be one of my play-all-the-time CD's.
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on February 9, 1999
Putumayo unveils the connection between Mali and Memphis that was always there but not always sufficiently appreciated. I find myself listening to the almost hypnotic track "Mon Amour, Ma Cherie" over and over. Johnny Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters never sounded better. Absolutely beautiful! Triumph and strength over sadness!
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on May 3, 2001
If you like Putumayo discs, this one is a must-have! The collection of artists is spectacular and the music is upbeat and easy to listen to. I've given this disc to people that have never heard of Putumayo nor own anything quite like this and the response has always been positive.
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VINE VOICEon March 5, 2002
When many westerners think of African music, they expect something exotic, something primitive, something mysterious. Yet for all their expectations, few Americans seem to realize that they are sitting on a goldmine of African traditions. The African musical traditions served to feed what would develop into the traditions of Blues, Jazz, Rap, Reggae, Rock, Gospel, Salsa and the like. And the purpose of this particular CD is to explore the African roots of the Blues.
Like most Putumayo CDs, this one jumps from Mali to the US, back to Mali (and neghboring Guinea), and to the US again. However, this only serves to show the similarities between these two musical traditions. Excellent selections from big namessuch as John Lee Hooker, Habib Koite, Muddy Waers, Taj Mahal, Rokia Traore and Boubacar Traore characterize this CD. The music, whether Mande or southern, always maintains a uniquely Blues feel to it.
And, as an added bonus to Blues fans, this CD really expands the entire genere. Compare John Lee Hooker's "I'm in the Mood" to Taj Mahal's "Queen Bee" and you'll see what I mean.
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on June 24, 2013
There is a lot to think about when you hear this Cd, which is a classic, worldwide. I am not sure what will stay with you. Some of the African musicians are surprisingly worthwhile, and take your spirit to places you've never dreamed of. If you vibe with the blues, you will really like Eric Bibb, Guy Davis. You probably already heard plenty of Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, but never better than on this one. This is a disc that can "get you through a season of Life" and some of you will benefit, emotionally, by how this music moves you from the place where you were, to the next level. Guaranteed. You can grow from this one. One of the main "sins" of racial thinking in our lives is, that many of us raised in the Great Middle Class are hidden from the Great Genius of these folks. They have something essential to give to our imagination. Open your mind and step into this room with both feet. If you're not changed by it, for the better, you can always back out and stay the same. Love.
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on September 21, 2011
I first heard this CD while riding in a friend's car...I HAD to have it. This is the second copy I've purchased. It is one of my all time favorites. I won't repeat what most all of the other reviewers have stated except to say, if you love the blues, you will love this CD.
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on December 23, 2014
Mali to Memphis is awesome. I know that. I have known that for a long time. I thought this CD would replace my old cassette tape, which I can't find. Sadly I was wrong. This thing is so old and scratched and wouldn't you know it on my favorite track "Kar Kar Madison". I am very disappointed. Maybe my days of making these kinds of purchases from Amazon are drawing to a close. In addition this CD seemed to have been the property of the Jacksonville Public Library in Florida at one time. I paid $2.38 and it seems I got what I paid for.
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Jeanette Belliveau seems a little disconnected about the source of the connection of the sounds in the two contrasted styles of music. Although the attitudes of blues originated in Africa, the sounds originated when black musicians picked up white instruments and tried to win acceptance through music. The only African instrument to make the journey from Africa to America and gain wide acceptance is the banjo -- which is almost never heard in black music, but rather has been adopted wholesale into white music.
On the whole, however, the sound you hear in the blues music on this CD is examplary, and the Malian sound, though influenced by blues and played partly on Western instruments, is magical. My girlfriend, Sarah, was so influenced by this CD that she bought Taj Mahal's album _Senor Blues_ (q.v.) and I invested in some John Lee Hooker and am fishing for some Muddy Waters. As a way of finding out about black music, either in Africa or in America, as well as examining how the two cultures have traded off one another, this CD is unmatched and unmatchable. A definite five stars.
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on March 19, 2014
I picked this up at while on a road trip at a small boutique and fell in love! Great history of blues and rock and roll all the way back to it's roots in Africa. I enjoyed reading about each artist in the CD booklet; it was very educational. I've since ordered 2 more copies as gifts for people from Amazon - and I NEVER buy CDs
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on February 25, 2009
updated - 9/5/2011

Below is my original review of this CD. I see now on 9/5/2011 that it may be hard to find. It's worth the effort to find it. Basically, my wife and I are Deadheads and appreciate music that is exploratory and accessible at the same time. If this description meets your persona - you will really enjoy this collection.
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I was at a Bonnie Raitt / Robert Cray concert here on Maui and between acts they were playing some music on the PA that was wonderful. As at Grateful Dead concerts in the past, when I heard great music played between sets or acts, I talked with the sound guys in charge to find out what this "new" music was.

In the case of the Bonnie show, it was this Putamayo records release of Mali to Memphis.

My music collection contains a little over a thousand hours of Grateful Dead concerts, various other live concerts as well as all the cd's and albums I've purchased over the years. This CD shows up again and again at the top of our personal playlist.

Highly recommended if you can still get it since I understand that Putamayo was discontinuing production.

If this music interests you, check out the Putamayo website for samples of other world music that fits your taste. I did and have been thankful.
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