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"Ndabaiwa" from Talking Mbira (Piranha)
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Talking Mbira (Piranha)
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Layer 2
CD review

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The Beat, CD review >>

(Part of larger article, "State of the Heart," by Robert Ambrose)

...Talking Mbira (Piranha) is a very nice, and somewhat puzzling, outing from mbira queen Stella Chiweshe, the innovator who discovered the fecund pairing of mbira with marimba. Most of the album was recorded with her band in Zimbabwe in 1998, a rollicking session with guitars, synthesizer and drums, but there are two exquisite, bookend solos recorded in Berlin, her second home, in 2001. There is also the anomalous inclusion of "Chachimurenga (Future Mix)" from her 1998 collaboration with two of 3Mustaphas3, which brings back memories, but seems incongruous with the rest. The opening and closing solos touch the essence of this rebel performer, exposing her spiritual commitment in austere arrangements without distractions. The band productions are much more political and directed, the "Spirits of Liberation" that is the album's subtitle. "Uchiseka," imbued with South African nuances and suffused with powerful drumming, is awesome--infinitely more satisfying than 1998's future mix. The interplay of Chiweshe's mbira with dual marimbas is such a natural intertwining that it baffles why it has not been part of the tradition for centuries. Have I mentioned that she sings with power and passion? Talking Mbira is by far the most satisfying release from this prodigious talent... 10/01/02
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