Matthieu Saglio ‘Diouke’ (Matsag) 4/5

Cellist Matthieu Saglio is a French native who has moved ship to Valencia in Spain where he has been an integral part of nuevo flamenco group Jerez Texas who are an acclaimed unit (feted no less by the Left of centre newspaper El Pais) in the country. However, this new solo project marks a departure stylistically and bears comparison with the wonderful African-fusion album by Vincent Ségal and Ballake Sissoko ‘Chamber music’ of a few summers ago and if that whetted your appetite, this new album surely will too. The cello is ideally suited to small group collaborations and this is where the album scores triumphantly with West African kora player Abdoulaye N’Diaye performing throughout with Carlos Sanchiz ably assisting on an array of Spanish accordion, harmonica and keyboards. There is pan-Mediterranean feel to the opener ‘Lima’ wth a lovely combination of accordion, horns and vocals that gives the piece something of a Brazilian feel. Arguably the catchiest track of all is the uplifting collective vocal led ‘Fallou Gallas’ which could well become a hit on world roots radio programmes if given sufficient airplay. Underlying it all is some fine accordion and cello soloing. Saglio has, on previous albums, devoted his attention to Arabo-Andalusian and Mediterranean music and a potential future project is, perhaps, hinted at on ‘Miba’ with fine fender keyboards. Blues inflections predominate on a delightful mid-tempo number ‘Malengue’, a distinctive African-inspired piece with N’Diaye once again taking lead vocals. If one had to look to other cellist for seminal influences, then the late great Pierre Fournier and even the mighty Rostropovich might be obvious choices. In terms of fusing musical styles, though, Yo Yo Ma is probably a more influential figure. A real slow burner of an album that deserves your attention on the musician’s own label ( One of the year’s most intriguing discoveries. Tim Stenhouse

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