In the Barbican Hall last night, in an emotional but rousing evening’s music, one Malian superstar celebrated the memory of another.
With so many West African traditional-modern ensembles making a name on the world music scene, is there more room for many more? The Cumbancha label obviously thinks so as the first release of its new ‘Discovery’ series is by young singer and balafón player Kimi Djabaté. Listening to Karam, it seems like a great catch
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
One of the first words you will hear when coming to Zanzibar is ‘Karibu’. Like the breeze of the Kaskazi trade winds, it is a warm Swahili welcome to the coast of East Africa. Already I can feel a sense of excitement in the air: the Sauti za Busara “Sounds of Wisdom” festival is about to begin
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
Catching Ba Cissoko’s band on stage is like watching African lightning bottled in front of you. The aching beauty of the acoustic kora, the thrill of an electrified kora and the cross currents of tradition and modernity in west African music meeting in one band. The whole — as dazzling as it is — feels unstable, powerful, beguiling.
This album has a new take on a very ancient tradition. The kora and the griot culture presides over this musical meeting in the masterful hands of Seckou Keita from Senegal, but it’s teased and challenged by other instruments and musical traditions, represented by the Egyptian violinist Samy Bishai, Italian double bassist Davide Mantovani and Gambian percussionist Surahata Susso.
“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.
“I want to show how far I can push the improvisation, I aim for sheer technical brilliance.”
From the first few, sharply beautiful notes of this exquisite pairing, it is already clear that this album will be one of the key records of the year. Ali Farka Touré’s guitar and Toumani Diabaté’s Kora emit a phenomenal series of notes that interlock with each other like two intricate cogs in some otherworldly machine.