From Face Magazine

Let Me Play My Music

Colby College faculty member Jordan Messan Benissan is a master drummer. Also a member of the Ewe People, he studied for a decade with traditional master drummers from the Ewe, Ashanti, Ga and Yoruba people of West Africa, and has been performing ever since in order to master his instrument. And that's all Jordan asks, that we let him play his music, to use his music, as the title cut asks, to "merge the individual with community, past and present, body and soul. I want to awaken you to the sound of my drums."

With a few original compositions thrown in, Benissan's Let Me Play My Music, his third CD, is mostly a collection of traditional, but newly-arranged, African songs. All serve various functions: to ask God to get one through tough times; music for finding lost luggage; songs of praise for local leaders; accompaniment for a traditional recipe. "Dze Dze Vinye" is a lullaby to comfort a crying baby, "Freedom" is a liberation song from South Africa.

Benissan's drumming and singing are prominently featured on all tracks but his band, Sankofa (Sorcha Cribben-Merrill on guitar and vocals, Dave Mello on guitar and dobro, and guest drummer Obo Addy), provide just enough vocal call and response, harmonies and rhythmic backing to never let this material wander from its roots. The playful conversational interplay between Benissan and Cribben-Merrill on "Fetri Dessi," an homage to a spicy Ewe dish, is priceless. Mello's bluesy dobro slidework on "More Than I Can Handle" effectively merges the musics of two cultures from opposite sides of an ocean, while Benissan's drumming and vocals attest to centuries of tradition. The 48 second "Dze Dze Vinye" is a wonder of a cappella harmony; Cribben-Merrill did her linguistic homework on this one!

Let Me Play My Music is a lot of fun and perfect for lifting one?s spirits under any circumstances. Enjoy!

--murdoch