Baba Sissoko & Jean Philippe Rykiel – Paris Bamako Jazz (ENG review)

Caligola Records – Available
Baba Sissoko et Jean Philippe Rykiel – Paris Bamako Jazz

It makes you wonder what’s happening in France right now. Indeed, the most important albums are now being distributed through Italy. No worries for us, as we have quite a few contacts in this beautiful country, which is how we got hold of this album.
I won’t introduce Baba Sissoko to you, as you’ve been able to thoroughly enjoy him on Bayou Blue Radio in recent years. This artist continues his collaborations here with the French keyboardist, Jean-Philippe Rykiel. They returned to the same studio and let their contagious creativity flow freely during an afternoon. Nothing had been planned. The music of “Paris Bamako Jazz,” partly sung and partly instrumental, flowed spontaneously, transmitting serenity and warmth to those who listen. It’s a kind of dialogue between old friends who reunite after a long time and quickly engage in an intimate and friendly conversation, as if resuming a dialogue that was interrupted too soon. The atmosphere is that of a “live” recording where improvisation plays a significant role. Sissoko plays a wide range of instruments, while Rykiel switches from piano to keyboard and Rhodes piano, always providing solid support to the African griot’s melodic lines and encouraging him to give his best.
The most impressive aspect of this album is undoubtedly Rykiel’s ability to blend into Malian culture. With Baba Sissoko now living in Italy, there’s also a sense of greater calmness in his music, which undoubtedly adds to the magic of this album – a music of tradition, of a traveler, of a storyteller. Baba Sissoko’s voice doesn’t just sing; it tells a story, and it’s up to each of us to be captivated. The magic between the two musicians reaches its zenith when Jean Philippe Rykiel lets his keyboards roar. There’s something astonishing happening on the track “Donfoli” – a form of perfect dissonance that makes Sissoko’s voice float in the air. Truly, this album is remarkable in every way.
As we progress through the tracks of this album, Baba Sissoko’s music becomes more Europeanized, and it’s not solely due to his new homeland. It has more to do with the beautiful complicity between these two musicians. Yes, the editorial teams of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move were won over quite easily because not only did this album transport us, but the end result is so fascinating that it has become one of our “Essentials.”

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, August 4th 2023


To Buy this album, CD or digital: here

Sissoko’s website

Rykiel’s website