Bob Brozman, LSO St Luke's London

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The Independent Culture

Over the past few years, this rabbinical-looking American slide-guitarist has been pollinating musical flowers all over the globe. In Okinawa he joined Takashi Hirayasu to create a delightful melding of guitar, voice and sanshin.

On the island of Réunion, he teamed up with the multi-talented René Lacaille to produce music whose infectious sweetness made one think blues guitar and Creole timbres were made for each other.

In India he blended his slide with the subtly melismatic swoops of Hindustani slide-guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya. And here at the Barbican's "World Got the Blues" festival, he'd gathered them all together: history would be made.

First on was Brozman himself, preparing to lead a whistle-stop tour of his greatest hits, and displaying with a burst of virtuosity, the extraordinary capacities of his trademark National Resonator guitar.

This chromium beast can fill an auditorium with high-pitched tickles and full-throated roars without amplification of any kind: Brozman's small concession to this converted church was a stage mike two feet away. After a dazzling ten-minute musical travel- ogue from the Mississippi to the Mekong, which ended with our clapping the cross-rhythms, he announced to the audience that this was our "neurological preparation" for the evening.

And so it was, even though Takashi Hirayasu - who came on next - delivered his ancient min'yo songs with graceful economy. The real neurological challenge began when René Lacaille's sons joined Brozman and Hirayasu on percussion; when Bhattacharya and his tabla player joined as well, the musical mixture grew more rich than the brain could easily take in.

As the evening continued, the sanshin increasingly resembled the banjo to which it is closely related, while the 32-string Hindustani slide guitar showed its kinship with the sitar and sarod.

We even got an Assam blues, with the Indians descanting showily while Brozman pumped out oblique harmonies below. Thus did musical worlds sweetly collide.

Finally, on came René Lacaille in straw hat, shades and muffler, a creature from yet another planet. He didn't have much of a voice, but that didn't matter because this man is a life-force who animates the whole scene round him.

He did several numbers with a big button-accordion and a tiny electric ukulele, while his sons set up a Cuban percussive ground.

The grand climax saw everyone on stage together, delivering an Italian melody with Hindustani embellishments, Mississippi bass and Indian Ocean harmonies.

Given the ropey stuff Radio 3 sometimes records to broadcast in its world-music slots, it was strange that they decided not to turn up to this exhilarating event.

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