Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal
Tonight I went to a fantastic performance by Ballaké Sissoko (kora) & Vincent Segal (cello) held in the auditorium at the Seattle Art Museum, part of the Earshot Jazz series. The two musicians have been playing together for a while, and it shows, and the music they have created from multiple traditions is at once surprising and coherent. It has an improvisitory side but also structure, with beginnings, middles and endings. It was interesting and absorbing music, not just jamming, but I don't have the vocabulary to describe it. In any case, the kora is an incredible instrument, and in this live setting I heard so many more tonal colors come out of it, masterfully and subtly controlled by Sissoko. The cello was also surprising (and wonderful), in that Segal makes use of all the coloristic techniques that classical training provides, plus more, but always in the service of their compositions. A funny bit came during an encore: as is normal for string players, Segal broke off a thread that came loose from his bow — but instead of throwing it aside, he began threading it around one of his cello strings, then proceeded to pull at it, playing the tune with a throaty dragging sound. It made the audience giggle, but it also sounded good. He must have done this before because Sissoko didn't react, just went with it.