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Baker's Dozen

Panning For Gold: Fimber Bravo's Favourite Music
Zakiya Mckenzie , March 3rd, 2021 10:13

In this week's Baker's Dozen, Zakiya Mckenzie speaks to steel pan legend Fimber Bravo about his favourite music, from Aretha Franklin to Stormzy and Johnny Cash; Sun-Ra, Hot Chip and Miles Davis


Taj Mahal & Toumani Diabaté – Kulanjan
This is a very special and spiritual album. It marries different instruments in a distinctive way. Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabaté created amazing harmonies that trace the roots of rock and roll and modern guitar through West Africa’s traditional rhythms. They reach for the kora via plantation blues and treasured songs by enslaved people. I love the connections!

This music made me think that I, as a pan man, could also explore the links between our different genres. Kulanjan inspired my album Small Talk with my dear friend, Senegalese Kora player and griot Kadialy Kouyate. In our first meeting at a friend’s house in Witney, Oxfordshire, Kadialy and I got our instruments out, sat together on the sofa and jammed. It was something almost spiritual, the first song that we played became virtually unchanged on the album, from there Small Talk grew. Like Taj Mahal who found am amazing language by playing the steel guitar alongside the kora, I found that common language with Kadialy. We found it between two instruments born thousands of miles apart, in poverty and of humble origins. The calabash and the oil drum. Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabete are an extraordinary combo and Kulanjan transports you from the delta blues to Malian deserts.