Madagascar Slim

A modern slant has been applied to Malagasy music by guitar and valiha (bamboo zither) player and vocalist Madagascar Slim (born Randriamananjara Radofa Besata Jean Longin). As equally inspired by B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix as the music of his homeland, Slim has created his own distinct sound. While the Toronto Star praised him for his "unique playing style," Roots World wrote, "(Slim's) wave-like style builds slowly into a crescendo, allowing the music to capture other sounds along the way -- there is blues, reggae, R&B crossover and bits and pieces from eastern and southern Africa." The younger brother of a guitarist, Slim secretly taught himself to play on his brother's instrument. His early fascination with music was further piqued when he heard a recording of Jimi Hendrix playing "Hey, Joe." Awe-struck by what he heard, he spent hours teaching himself to duplicate Hendrix's solo. A recording by B.B. King steered him towards the more direct form of the blues. Eventually sent by his parents to study accounting at Seneca College in Toronto in 1979, Slim soon attracted attention with his instrumental talents. The following year, he became a founding member of a French Canadian folk ensemble, La Ridiane. ~ Craig Harris

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