Trombonist Roswell Rudd has played w/ Archie Shepp, Steve Lacy, Dixieland bands and Sonic Youth - now he plays w/ a group of musicians from Mali for a most charming set of cross-cultural synthesis. On first listen, it might perhaps seem an odd match-up: Rudd’s burly, in-your-face, slightly burlesque-y style meets the effervescent, country blues-shaded folk sound of the Malian players - and it is, but it’s the good-natured contrast of sounds ‘n’ styles that makes this particular round of pan-cultural gate-crashing so distinctive. Those expecting a slick, smooth (or commercial) example of world-music "fusion" - the kind that gets played as background music in wannbe-hip bookstores - might want to look elsewhere, as Malicool is a delight exactly because of the seeming "sharp" disparity of the participants and the genially "ruff" edges left showing. "Hank" is an oddly engaging mix of reggae riddim, wry Frank Zappa-ish melody and bubbling Malian folk. The gentle and melodious, almost baroque "Johanna" shimmers like the first rays of sunrise and Rudd’s ‘bone intones like the wise old man of the mountain. Thelonious Monk’s "Jackie-ing" is recast as a hillbilly tune as played my a mariachi band, but still retains plenty of urban after-hours blues feeling, with Rudd’s quasi-tipsy trombone showing you around the coolest late-nightspots. At the risk of sounding like Harry Hyperbole, if you’re seeking a jazz-meets-world (Africa, specifically) with some unpredictable vitality mixed in with some organic beauty, this is The One.