In this Scorsese-directed segment we follow musician Corey Harris as he explores the origins of the blues, tracing back from the birth of the Delta-blues to the slave-experience and finally to Africa, meeting with musicians from Mississippi to Mali, culminating in a magical moment where the American Harris and the Malian Ali Farka Toure improvise on a theme, each in their own style and sound perfectly harmonious.
If a movie about the origin of the blues sounds didactic, rest assured it isn't: there is very little voice-over commentary, the soundtrack consists of almost wall-to-wall music, and it feels as if that music tells its own story. And what music it is: the early Alan Lomax recordings of Robert Johnson and Leadbelly, the fife and drums of Otha Turner (no, I had never heard from him either) or the African folk-music from Salif Keita or Ali Farka Toure, it is all so excellent that the documentary often frustrates by only giving excerpts. When Keita took my breath away with a soulfull rendition of a griot-song, I wish Scorsese didn't interrupt for an interview with the man.
For anyone who is even remotely interested in blues, this is a must-see documentary, with a must-have soundtrack record.
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