Molly Tigre is the self-titled debut from a heavy-duty 5-piece band from Brooklyn, NY. The band’s name is a play on words: Mali + Tigray, two of the principal regions in Africa most famous for West African blues, commonly known as "desert blues." One of the best-known exporters of the desert blues sound is Tinariwen. But unlike Tinariwen, Molly Tigre doesn’t have a guitar player in the band, relying on drummer Joey Abba and percussionist Ibrahima Kolipe Camara to deliver the one-two punch. Nevertheless, the results are amazing, reminding me of the World Saxophone Quartet crossed with the rhythms of Ethiopia.
Molly Tigre is led by Mitch Marcus and Ezra Gale, who clearly love the raw recordings from the seventies known as Éthiopiques, a multi-volume set of albums from the urban and rural areas of the African country. Marcus and Gale decided to analyze the rhythmic components of the music and write their own tunes. Consequently, electric bass, drums and percussion set the foundation for the saxophones and grant the horn section a chance to wail away. They sound much bigger and bolder than a quintet. The band’s street-wise feel for the urban sounds of New York grabs the ears immediately, as if you were walking into a spontaneous sidewalk performance. Highlights on the group’s second album include “Slush Fund” and “Hello Bolly.”