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Sten Källman & Sanba Zao

Country & Eastern (
Review by Andrew Cronshaw

Listen "Vals Azounke"

Some may fondly remember the stringy, reedy swingy halling/polska honk of Filarfolket, a prime and now legendary band in the Swedish folk music revival.

Mapou often evokes that swing. Pairing ex-Filarfolket saxophonist Sten Källman on baritone, tenor and soprano with Haitian voudou drummer Sanba Zao, it draws on Swedish and Norwegian traditional halling, polska, waltz or springlek and Haitian melodic rhythms.

In music of just reeds and drums, plus touches of brass, with no chordal instruments but rich with implied and actual harmony, they’re augmented by two more Haitian percussionists, bass clarinettist and soprano saxophonist Robin Johansson and, on a few tracks, a bunch of Swedish reeds and brass players.

Listen "Sleipner"

The resonant and gutty patter and pitched ring of the drums creates a rhythmic and melodic world, over and within which the reeds float and weave their own melodies, softly solo or in thicker ensemble.

Listen "Un Soir"

Sometimes the drums drop out, for example in the harmonising, counterpointing rendition of Emma Ahlberg Ek’s polska “Sleipner.” The pairing of the Haitian mereng “Un Soir” with Källman’s own “Twilight” brings a sunny Caribbean reeds and brass feel evoking Haiti’s own wind and string music. It’s followed by the reflective, stretched wandering of his Swedish vals “Kitchen Spirit” leading into a Hans W. Brimi Norwegian springlek “Den Blåkledde.”

Listen "Kanaval & Jubilation"

Multiple drums follow in “Kanaval & Jubilation,” creating complex Haitian overlapping patterns with chunky reeds and brass. A very natural, happy pairing of traditions, making uplifting music for this wintery Sunday morning. - Andrew Cronshaw

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