Jordi Savall - The Routes of Slavery (1444-1888) review: ‘A lavish book in six languages’

Simon Broughton
New album: Jordi Savall's The Routes of Slavery (1444-1888)

Viol player Jordi Savall is known for his historically informed performances of music from Spain, Jerusalem and Istanbul and now turns his attention in a more surprising direction.

This is a lavish book in six languages with two CDs and a DVD of a concert in France charting through music the horrors of the slave trade.

He includes Baroque compositions of the period, mainly church music from Latin America, where natives and slaves were often forced to get involved, and hereditary musicians from West Africa, singer Kassé Mady Diabaté and kora player Ballaké Sissoko.

They don’t sing about slavery but their music is the most powerful part of the album. Lengthy readings (in French) from contemporary accounts add context but make ponderous listening.