What with the “Produced By Manu Chao” sticker on the cover and the Metro’s ‘Album of the Week’, what more do you want from SMOD’s third album?
Begin at the end, so they say, and the end for Lobi came suddenly and out of the blue. He died in June at 49. Like Habib Koite is, Lobi was a people’s musician. Friendly and down to earth, Lobi was well known to hustlers and music fans alike in clubs like the Djembe in Bamako. A short time before his death, he grabbed half an opportunity to record an album and here it is
Due to innumerable reasons, some great artists and bands fail to achieve the posterity of their peers, and so it was with Benin’s Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou whose name should be as recognisable to African music fans as Orchestra Baobab and the Bamako Rail Band.
The world’s least likely superstars are back with an album that takes the winning formula of Dimanche a Bamako to the next level. More guests, more meddling with their sound, more English and well why not, a bit of Damon Albarn
Network records have kept up the profoundly high level of quality control exhibited on the first two instalments of this exquisite series
“I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks,” I was told be my partner in the queue to get in. And I’m not surprised as when are you going to see Salif Keita and Tony Allen on the same night in Dorset?
Go anywhere in Mali and people will fall over themselves to tell you how great Habib Koite is. Whether on guitar, flute, vocals or one of the seemingly hundreds of other instruments he plays, he is a musician to the core. He has the charisma to match so why is it so few people outside Mali know his name?
Dee Dee has just released a wonderful album recorded in her spiritual homeland of Mali. Of course she was physically born in Memphis, TN but she explains on the DVD that as soon as she saw the bright Malian red earth, she felt that she had arrived home
Bassekou Kouyaté is better known as the ngoni player on seminal recordings by Toumani Diabaté and Ali Farka Touré. Segu Blue is his assured, elegant and long overdue debut
With all the hype surrounding Tinariwen’s third international release, long-time fans could be forgiven for expecting to hear the lost desert album of Radiohead. Thank God it’s still the boys in blue’s trademark sound instead
A few years ago a group of hoteliers got together in the pleasant but unremarkable stopover of Segou along the banks of the Niger river to work out how to get people to stay for a while in their town. Thus the Festival sur le Niger was born and this year it burst its banks
Malick has had three books of his photos published, exhibitions across Europe and the States and is regularly cited as one of Africa’s most important photographers. I dropped in on his Bamako studio to find a gentle man fighting the good fight against the airborne red earth of Africa and dodgy chemicals
Quite possibly the most difficult festival to get to on earth, certainly the most fun, The Festival in the Desert is held at Essakane every January. Head for Timbuktu and when you have reached the middle of nowhere, keep going for a few more hours of treacherous driving up and down sand dunes and you have the festival that makes Glastonbury seem about as adventurous as a trip to the local garden centre
“Where is Toumani?” vocalist Soumaila Kanoute sings every Friday night in a small bar in Bamako called Hogon. “Toumani has arrived!” he announces as an unassuming man, carrying a four-foot high 21-stringed harp-lute known as a kora, takes centre stage. And every Friday night the expectant crowd erupts in song and dance to the African star’s latest project: Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra.