Published Issue No. 80 Winter 2018 in Reviews
By Barry Hammond
The latest Tri-Continental CD (they’ve had at least four previous: Live, Drifting, Tri-Continental and Let’s Play) on what these three guitar players/singer/songwriters do best: fluid, fairly heavy electrifies blues augmented by acoustic playing here and there.
The three players are all professional solo artists in their own right: Bill Bourne, Lester Quitzau and Randriamananjara Radofa Besata (a.k.a. Madagascar Slim). On the disc, recorded at Edmonton’s The Audio Department, they’re backed up by producer/engineer/mixer Harry Gregg (Kimberley MacGregor Band, Moshin Zaman, Cadence, and Nathan, etc.) on bass and Michael Treadway on drums, percussion and backing vocals.
The group really covers a wide range of sounds and influences - blues, western, and world music - and has a knack for expanding and broadening one another’s sounds. Guitar aficionados will appreciate this disc particularly. The snaking African guitar lines of Madagascar Slim’s Lakalaka or Tononkira are particularly appealing to this critic but Lester Quitzau gets some tasty
more-romantic licks in, too. Bill Bourne does a rocking arrangement of Stackerlee, the traditional murder ballad about a fight over a Stetson hat, and Bourne’s Dancing In Old Crow is quite catchy and could become a popular number. All in all, a solid disc from the trio.
Toronto Blues Society
Published on August 1, 2018 in John's Blues Picks, News
It has been some years since a recording by these three players together. Bill Bourne, Lester Quitzau and Madagascar Slim (Randriamananjara Radofa Besata) each have separate careers loosely characterized as folk, blues and world music respectively, although each would probably be upset at being so labelled.
Slim for one spent many years here in blues bands. As Tri-Continental, they hope to create a sound that is based in blues and is greater than the sum of its parts and in this I think they have succeeded admirably once again. They’ve added Harry Gregg on bass and Michael Treadway on drums and percussion. On “Dust”, Quitzau begins with searing bluesy electric slide that then turns subtly into a joyous Malagasy rhythm. The lyrics are from a 400-year-old Buddhist poem. It’s a stunning example of what these three can do together. Something similar happens with “Lakalaka” with Slim singing in his native tongue over some very bluesy changes driven by Bourne’s acoustic guitar. Malagasy Blues indeed. A straight-ahead blues sung by Bourne is a roaring new version of the traditional “Stackerlee”. With fine solos from Quitzau and Slim, this will easily dispel any doubts about their blues playing. Quitzau’s “In The Silence” finds them in blues-rock mode with superb electric guitar solos from all. With a couple of songs that are closer to world music and a couple of others that lean to folk/country, this disc has plenty of variety, a synthesis of their individual talents that should make for an exciting evening. That evening is at Hugh’s Room Live on August 18th.