Garikayi Tirikoti | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

According to a 20-year-old Zimbabwean legend, Garikayi Tirikoti -- woodcarver, carpenter, metal worker and master of the mbira thumb piano -- dreamed that upon arriving to a familiar water source, he found instead a stranger from whose mouth flowed mbira music the likes of which our dreamer had never heard. Yet, once he woke, Garikayi found he couldn't play any of this exquisite music unless he built oddly tuned mbiras and plucked several of them simultaneously. And while he re-visited this stranger repeatedly in his dreams for new tunings, he was unable to share these sounds with anyone until recently, when he traveled to a modern studio in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. 


Maidei, then, is Garikayi as orchestra, overdubbing variously tuned mbiras and percussion, while multi-tracking his own voice to sound like several. But anyone who's familiar with this region's music will recognize the merry-go-round-like elation of classic Zimbabwean mbira rhythms immediately. Not since Elektra records Nonesuch subsidiary released a batch of exceptional recordings from the area has there been such ecstasy captured on tape. Like the best gnawa from Morocco, or the hypnosis brought on by the one-string dagbon fiddlers of Northern Ghana, Maidei is trance-inducing. The spontaneity all but cancels out the fact that this "orchestra" is only one person. With self-penned tunes performed on handcrafted instruments, Garikayi plays a music of extended spirituality, reminding listeners not only of the importance of ancestral respect but also that Africa is still the root of all things groove.

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