‘The Golden Voice Of Africa’ Salif Keita returns for farewell album of innovation and tradition

Salif Keita – aka ‘the Golden Voice of Africa – returns for his 14th studio album Un Autre Blanc on February 1st, 2019. A three track single – Bah Poulo/Diawara Fa/Itarafo is out now. It follows a six year break for the Malian star and he is joined by luminaries such as Beninoise singer Angelique Kidjo, Parisian MC and trap artist MHD and Nigerian pop star Yemi Alade – who won the Peak Talent Show in 2009 – and is now a prominent leading light on the Afropop scene. Alpha Blondy of Ivory Coast and South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo also collaborate on the album.

Un Autre Blanc  is Keita’s first self-produced record and encapsulates his 50 years in the business. A key theme is about the fight for justice for people with albinism and builds on the work his self-made foundation conducts across Africa, helping to create awareness about the plight of those living with albinism. The Foundation Salif Keita pour les Albinos was set up in 2005 and is now run by his Paralympian gold-medalist daughter Nantenin Keita.

Salif Keita was a prince and exiled from his village by his family at a young age because of the colour of his skin. It was seen as a sign of bad luck in Mandinka culture. His royal background can be traced to the founder of the Malian Empire almost 1,000 years ago. It meant he turned to the ways of the musician ‘griots’ and moved to the Malian capital Bamako in 1967 at age 18. He became a singer in the Government-sponsored Super Rail Band and his success led him to join rival band Les Ambassadeurs.

Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux

The band fled to the Ivory Coast in the mid-1970s because of military unrest in Mali. They returned following the conflict and found international recognition under a reformed name, Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux – and for pioneering a sound combining Zairean (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Cuban and Malian influences to their incredible repertoire.

Watch this classic ode to president Sékou Touré of Guinea by Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux – featuring singer Salif Keita and guitarist Manfila Kanté. It is taken from Malian television broadcast in the early 1980s:

Since his solo debut Soro in 1987, through to the critically acclaimed Moffou in 2002, Keita has soared. Utilising fresh artists’ contributions, alongside some legends of African music, he has created a swansong album that is a fitting farewell for such a great talent and icon.

Follow ‘The Golden Voice of Africa on Facebook.

Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet drop chart topping debut ‘Ladilikan’ next week

The debut album Ladilikan by Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet will be released on World Circuit Records on Friday 15th September and is already being tipped to be the transglobal LP of the year.

The video to the collective’s single has already shown their exquisite sound and the fusion of Malian griot and contemporary classical music.

Ladilikan unites Trio da Kali and Kronos Quartet for the first time. Kronos artistic director and founder David Harrington has described the album as “one of the most beautiful Kronos has ever done“.  Trio Da Kali’s musical director Fodé Lassana Diabaté believes their griot grooves being played by violins, viola and cello has created “the best collaboration of my life”.

The three Da Kali members who make up the griot super-group come from celebrated musical families, brought together by Dr Lucy Duran on behalf of the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI). Balafon player Diabaté was a long-time member of Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra and has recorded with Salif Keita, Taj Mahal and many others. Bass ngoni player Mamadou Kouyaté is the eldest son of the instrument’s greatest exponent Bassekou Kouyaté, plays in his father’s band Ngoni Ba and is also involved in the thriving Bamako hip-hop scene in Mali. Singer Hawa ‘Kassé Mady’ Diabate is the daughter of Mali’s greatest traditional singer, Kassé Mady Diabate.

The Kronos Quartet comprises of violinists Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt and cellist Sunny Yang. Kronos have released over 60 albums that expand the concept of a string quartet and have collaborated with some of the world’s foremost composers and artists.

Kronos turned to the American composer and their frequent collaborator Jacob Garchik to arrange Trio Da Kali’s repertoire.

The album has already topped the September 2017 Transglobal World Music Chart.

Visit the vibrant Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet website for more information and updates about their performances and releases.

Sorry Bamba’s ‘Du Mali’ LP is reissued by Africa Seven

The second LP of one of the most pivotal figures in the history of Malian music – Sorry Bamba – is being reissued this month by Africa Seven. His work spans five decades and Mali’s cultural traditions and new musical styles that arose during Mali’s post-Colonial period.

Bamba was born in 1938 in Mopti, dissected by both the Niger and Bani rivers and known for its rich cultural diversity. Bamba’s father was a distinguished veteran of Emperor Samory Toure’s military and a nobleman in Malian society. But this meant young Sorry was forbidden to make music, as under the nation’s caste system music was an art form reserved for the Griots. At the age of ten, Sorry’s parents died and in these traumatic times the young teen found solace in music. He first taught himself to play an African six-holed flute and as he progressed he began to absorb the rich tapestry of music of his surroundings – traditional Malian music, highlife from Ghana, local accordion master Toumani Toure, as well as European singers and musicians.

In 1957 Sorry formed his first band, Group Goumbe, named after a popular Ivory Coast dance style. In 1960 when Mali gained independence from France, Bamba and his group benefited from a new openness toward local music on the state-run radio network Radio Mali. Sorry then went on to form two award-winning collectives – Bani Jazz and later the Kanaga Orchestra. They fused Latin jazz, Western R&B, psychedelic and funk, as well as traditional Malian styles, making them a favourite in Mali and beyond.

The re-issue benefits from extensive restoration and re-mastering.

Check out Africa Seven for previous re-issues of Sorry Bamba’s third and first LP.

Check out the recent Africa Seven feature on KMAH Radio.

From Mali – Awa Poulo’s rare modern take of Peulh music for Awesome Tapes From Africa

Out today, ANOTHER treasure from the Awesome Tapes From Africa label. This sounds wonderful.

Awa Poulo is a singer of Peulh origin from Dilly commune, Mali, near the border with Mauritania.

On the LP Poulo Warali: “She and her band combine the hallmarks of Peulh music—warm flute floating over cross-rhythmic n’goni (lute) riffs and resonant calabash gourd hand percussion—with broader Malian sounds like lightly-distorted guitar and a heavier, rollicking inertia. This is a relatively rare example of Malian Peulh music played in a modern, cosmopolitan context, reflecting the mixed society of Dilly, where Bambara, Soninke and Peulh-speaking people live among each other.”

More information and to buy at https://awapoulo.bandcamp.com/album/poulo-warali

This is Leila Gobi, supreme songstress of Mali

Leila Gobi is a singer from Menaka near Gao, a rural area in Eastern Mali in the midst of the Saharan desert. Clermont have released her third LP and distributed more widely after her first two albums were available in her homelands. This video sees her in Malian pop mode, but her LP is sounding a much more polished and expansive affair for new audiences.

Leila Gobi's LP for Clermont

Leila Gobi’s LP for Clermont

Leila has toured the sub-Saharan region performing in Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Senegal where she wowed audiences. In September 2013 she performed in North America as one of the musicians presented by Clermont Music in its Festival au Desert /Caravan for Peace tour.

This was a Record Store Day 2015 release and has been selling more widely this month. Limited release and well worth adding to a discerning African collection.

African musicians reinterpret Terry Riley

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Terry Riley’s In C, a pioneering work in minimalist composition, Tate Modern, band Africa Express and The Space, London, have launched an interactive online film.

Terry Riley (image from www.lifem.org.uk)

Terry Riley (image from http://www.lifem.org.uk)

The film follows the African musicians brought together by Africa Express (featuring members Damon Albarn, Brian Eno and Nick Zinner) and led by classical composer Andre de Ridder.

An album, Africa Express presents Terry Riley’s In C Mali, has also been released by Transgressive Records this month. The original In C is also reissued and available.

Click here for Tate Modern and Africa Express presents Terry Riley in C.