Wednesday, March 08, 2006
D'Gary and the Lemur
Tonight at the library where I work in Phoenix I went down on my break and checked out (for the umpty-umpth time) the first recording of the Madagascarian guitarist D'Gary. By some cosmic collision (if only in my own billiard-busting skull) at the end of the worknight, a co-worker from telephone reference came down the stairs asking me if i heard anything about a lemur loose in the building. In the gathering of those leaving the building I picked up bits and pieces and the logical conclusion was that it was some sort of desert ring-tail cat and not a Madagascar Lemur gone for a stroll in the park, taking a detour through the open door of the library....
From a small village in Madagascar, D'Gary has evolved an intricate, flowing finger-picked acoustic guitar style that is out of this world. The fact that Malagasy people are largely of a mix of African and Indonesian origins hints at the unusual chemistry of these sounds - obviously inspired by western recordings as well.
D'Gary has adapted to guitar melodic lines that roll with ease off of native instruments of his people; the valiha - a tubular harp, the marovany - a box zither, and, among others, the kabosy - which combines characterists of the mandolin, guitar and dulcimer.
A little about Madagascar from the liner notes of this record:
"80% of the plants and animals of Madagascar are endemic, they exist only there. In terms of biodiversity it is one of the richest lands on the planet. This is due, perhaps to the island's early separation from the mainland some 160 million years ago and to the fact that Madagascar was one of the last places on Earth to be settled by humans (around the 7th century AD).
The record is called "Malagasy Guitar: D'Gary: Music from Madagascar" and is available from Shanachie records. It was produced by Henry Kaiser and David Lindley -innovative and diverse guitarists in their own right - in 1991.