Pascal Bokar review…August 9, 2019….

PASCAL BOKAR

AMERICAN TRAILS

THE BLUES DON’T LIKE NOBODY–I WANNA  SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS–I CAN TELL–YOU SMILE INSIDE MY NIGHTS–LET IT GROOVE ALL NIGHT LONG–EVERY TIME I SEE YOU THERE

Pascal Bokar is an incredible blues/jazz guitarist who hails originally from the Mali/Senegal region of West Africa.  He has been awarded the ultra-prestigious Jim Hall Jazz Master Award For Guitar from the Berklee School Of Music, as well as the Outstanding Jazz Soloist Award.  For his latest EP, he has incorporated the sounds of his homeland with both traditional and Delta blues, with the unusual addition of fiddle and banjo all stirred together in the melting pot that is “American Trails.”  It is five originals and one cover, and one of the coolest features of the whole shootin’ match is the way Pascal tunes his guitar in sync with his singing voice.  With his penchant for scat-singing throughout these cuts, his style is reminiscent of late-Seventies George Benson.

He leads off with the set’s lone cover, Otis Spann’s “The Blues Don’t Like Nobody,” showing exactly how the banjo and fiddle adapt so easily within this material, courtesy of Avram Siegel and Jim Purat, respectively.  He taps into that Benson-ish, sweet-and-soulful groove with “I Wanna See You In My Dreams,” then does it Hill Country-style with the stone stomp of “Let It Groove All Night Long.”  The set closes with our favorite, a chooglin, all-out blues hoedown throwdown with the whole band blastin’ the straight-outta-Clarksdale boogie of “Every Time I See You There.”

A dazzling, fiery combination of traditional, Delta, and West African roots music, award-winning guitarist Pascal Bokar offers a captivating and unique foray into contemporary blues with “American Trails.”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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