Various, In Griot Time (Stern's): Subtitled "String Music From Mali," this is the soundtrack to Banning Eyre's remarkable book of the same name (available from Temple University Press), a narrative of the seven months he spent learning guitar in Mali. Its 19 tracks come from Eyre's own cassette recordings of various jam sessions and live shows, as well as tracks plucked from international releases by Oumou Sangaré, Salif Keita and Ali Farka Touré. As you might imagine, this approach to compilation isn't conducive to consistency; it's a rare Afropop collection that displays both the undercooked ethnography and the slick overreaching of many of the records that make it to Western shores. But Eyre means to make this music less foreign, and most of his selections are immediately pleasurable even without the book. Rarely, if ever, do field recordings showcase rhythms that interlock so intricately as those of "Kedo," which Eyre performs with Djelimady and Solo Tounkara. And guitarniks ought to make the acquaintance of Habib Koite and, especially, Lobi Traoré, who by now must have inspired scribblings of "Traoré is God" on walls all over Segu. — Kevin John

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