Various Artists – World Circuit Presents …
On Thursday (March 22) there was a coup d’etat in Mali. It is still unclear exactly what is happening there at the moment, the BBC are reporting that:
“Amadou Toumani Toure, the army general credited with rescuing Mali from military dictatorship and handing it back to its people, appeared to have been overthrown in a coup in March 2012.
He was due to step aside at the end of his current term and presidential elections were due in April 2012.
However a group of army officers announced on state TV that they were taking over because of the incompetence of President Toure and his government’s “inability” to handle a Tuareg-led insurrection in the north of the country.”
Frances and her colleagues are safe though they are confined to their local area. This means that they can’t finish the work that they are in Mali to do which is a great shame – for their friends in Mali and for them. The airport is closed but may re-open this week. They may well be evacuated out of Mali as soon as the airport is open and it is safe to fly out. They are due home in two weeks anyway – fingers crossed that they can get home soon.
For them and all the people of Mali, who deserve a stable democratic government, I’m posting a Malian track – Toumani Diabaté‘s Symmetric Orchestra – Tapha Niang. It comes from their album Boulevard de l’Independance, but I have it on the World Circuit compilation World Circuit Presents …
Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra – Tapha Niang
Various Artists – World 2000
More from Mali this week.
I have it on very good authority (and from some less reliable sources) that the Festival sur le Niger was a blast. Our IS team enjoyed fantastic music and met lovely generous people, including their Malian hosts, a couple of mad Americans who had driven an ambulance from London to Bamako and … Salif Keita himself. But don’t take my word for it – read the blogs linked above.
Here in the less exotic English Midlands, we had to satisfy our curiosities and musical appetites by reading the article about Amadou and Mariam in today’s Observer and enjoying the photos taken on the trip to Bamako to interview them. Much is made in the article of the school for the blind in Bamako where Amadou and Mariam met and there are photos of the school today in the photo gallery. The current IS group are working at the school as part of their project and have a Just Giving site to accept donations to support their work there. If you would like to support the the Just Giving page is here.
Today’s track is Amadou and Mariam singing and playing Bali Maou – taken from Charlie Gillett’s compilation World 2000.
Amadou & Mariam – Bali Maou
Salif Keita – Soro
Festival sur le Niger
Another interruption to the Lucky Thirteen series to mark the Festival sur le Niger which is being held this weekend.
Wouldn’t you just love to be lazing alongside the Niger river listening the musicians listed above? Wouldn’t you love to be able to watch & hear Salif Keita, Rokia Traoré and several bands / singers who you don’t know, will probably will never make it outside Mali, but are fantastic musicians? If you would, you will be jealous of Frances, Felicity, Jemma, Hibz, Rachel and the other IS volunteers who are chilling out in Segou this weekend.
To take the edge off your jealousy just a bit, I’ve the opening track of Salif Keita‘s breakthrough album Soro for you. While you listen to Salif’s magnificent vocals, trawl the Internet for trips to the festival at Segou and resolve to book for next year.
Salif Keita – Wamba
Bajourou – Big String Theory
As usual I’m rushing to get this posted. I’ve been busy at work in the week and busy at home over the weekend. Mustn’t grumble though – that’s how I like it.
So, a very quick post – a second Malian track to send Frances and colleagues on their way in Mali. And the best way to fire up a quick post is to quote from the record label’s website:
“BAJOUROU (which means ‘big string’ or ‘big tune’) unites two of Mali’s prime guitar shapers – Bouba Sacko and Djelimadis Tounkara (now winner for Africa of BBC Radio 3’s Music of the World Awards) and singer Lafia Diabate in a superstar acoustic trio, recorded deep and direct in the Malian night.
During November of last year, intrepid GlobeStyle person Ben Mandelson and Lucy Duran journeyed to Bamako in Mali. There they recorded direct-to-DAT Bajourou, a superb trio of Malian acoustic stars. The band’s leader and electric guitarist Jalimadi Tounkara and singer Lafia Diabate were part of the legendary Super Rail Band (in fact, Lafia was the singer who replaced Mory Kante and Salif Keita when they left for solo careers). Rounding off the trio, Bouba Sacko is the most in-demand accompanist and arranger for all of the cantatrices or singing women of Mali. Big String Theory is a showcase for Bajourou (in Manding “Big String”), the Malian music of celebration and relaxation. The ambient recording captures a music of many subtle delights, framed against a natural acoustic background and the distant Malian night. The tour Mali Unplugged is a more acoustic showcase for music that has often become synonymous with the loud, electric performance. Mali Unplugged brings it all back home to the glorious acoustic roots of its traditions.”
The song I’ve chosen is Mansa “.. a beautiful song … on the theme of ‘life is short, make the best of it'”. Well, credit to all those going to Mali as part of the International Service scheme – they are making the most of their lives.
Bajourou – Mansa
Super Rail Band – Super Rail Band
Another excursion away from “la diritta via” of Lucky Thirteen. This is to mark the start of my daughter’s three month stint of volunteering in Bamako, Mali. She is a Team Leader for International Service initially leading a group of young British volunteers living with disabilities who will be aiming to share experiences with their Malian counterparts and to contribute to the promotion of the rights of people living with disabilities in Mali. After that she will be working with another group of British volunteers carrying out research and development activities for the Malian organisation which is “hosting” the placement: FEMAPH (Malian Federation of Disabled People’s Associations).
So with Frances off to Bamako, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post a track from the Super Rail Band of Bamako, or the Super Rail Band Of The Buffet Hotel De La Gare De Bamako, Mali to give them their full name. The album is eponymously titled but don’t expect me to type all of that over again – or even copy and paste it!
From the Ace / Globestyle records website we learn that “Formed in July 1970, the Super Rail Band was the first major pop band to be sponsored by the Ministry of Information in its native Mali. The country’s severe shortages of musical instruments and the electricity to power them (often no more than 3 hours at best was available per day) meant that government sponsorship was essential. The band became synonymous with the regular venue they played – the capital city’s railway station hotel and refreshment room – thus acquiring the name the Super Rail Band of the Buffet Hotel De La Gare De Bamako, Mali.
In October 1982, when the recordings were made that appear here, Djelimadi Tounkara was the compositional and guitar driving force behind the Super Rail Band and the singers were Sekou Kane and Lafia Diabate. All of the Super Rail Band’s trademark style is fully in evidence (on this album) – the soaring, almost Arabic sound of the vocals, the cascading electric guitars (emulating both the traditional kora and ngoni instruments of the region), the tight horn riffs and loose backbeat of the drumming. The electric guitars owe a debt to the dominant soukous stylings of the period but they relocate the musical terrain to a whole different plane. A classic African music sound.”
I couldn’t put it better myself. Enjoy Konowale from the CD.
Super Rail Band – Konowale
Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko – Africa To Appalachia
February is to be devoted to new additions to my collection. Music that I have bought recently or has been generously given as a Christmas present.
I’m starting with Tunya by Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko from their album Africa To Appalachia. The album is pretty much as the title and artists names suggest i.e. a fusion of African and North American music. It works better than many of these kind of albums do, in my opinion and that of Robin Denselow in the Guardian – “(it) matches Malian praise songs against North American themes, with Sissoko’s stately, rippling kora and Stone’s impressive, agreeably muted banjo working remarkably well together.”
The album won the Juno Award for Best World Music Album of the Year in 2009 and Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko toured the project in Canada, the US and the UK. Such was the popularity of the music that Stone toured in 2010 with another Sissoko: Malian kora master and singer Yacouba Sissoko as well as fiddler Mike Barnett, bassist Brandi Disterheft and percussionist Nick Fraser.
Jayme Stone’s brand new album Room of Wonders looks interesting too. It is Inspired by folk dances from around the world and includes music from Norway, Sweden, Brazil, Bulgaria, Italy and North America.
Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko – Tunya
Songhai – Songhai
A quick post today as I’ve already spent too much time looking at this computer already this weekend.
Today we’ve got Songhai, a collaboration between the Spanish flamenco group Ketama, Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté, and, our hero, Danny Thompson. I’ve commented before that I’m not one for “fusion” music. I generally like the parts more than the whole. (An aside – I feel this way about fusion food too). However, as with all rules, there are exceptions. One such is Songhai.
They made two albums, imaginatively called Songhai and Songhai 2. Neither albums are easy to purchase at the moment either as CDs or mp3 downloads. If you see a copy, snap it up. Until then, enjoy Caramelo from the first album.
On my, admittedly very quiet, quest to get Danny Thompson and O.B.E. or some such gong, I realise now that I’m hampered by not having a Facebook account. I understand that this is how the young people lobby for such things today. If there is anyone out there with such an account, could you please check to see if there is a high profile campaign to recognise DT and if not, would you start one for me please?
Songhai – Caramelo
Ali Farka Touré – Red & Green
Here is the second track, Petenere, taken from the “Green” album.
Ali Farka Touré – Peternere
Ali Farka Touré – Red & Green
(Late again – but to make amends I’m posting two tracks this week.)
Amazon.com have just release a list of “The 100 Greatest World Music Albums of All Time”. They say that “Our editors put their stamp of approval on the 100 best-ever albums from the global set.” Of course, these lists are entirely meaningless and inevitably raise more questions than they answer; Who are “our editors” and what do they know anyway? What is World Music? Why is this album included? Why is that album excluded? Is this just an exercise for Amazon to sell more CDs?
That said, these lists can be fun by providing yet another excuse for shouting at your computer screen. And they can be useful, offering another jumping off point to discover new music.
In the Amazon list, there are albums I have in my collection (including their number 1 Wattina by Andy Palacio), artists I would like but, for reasons many and various, I have not yet bought (Amália Rodrigues) and some artists that I have never even heard of (Solomon Ilori – to name just one).
I may return to this list later, but in the meantime, and fitting in with my colours theme of recent weeks, I am posting a couple of tracks by Ali Farka Touré from “Red & Green”. This double album is a re-release of the “Red” and “Green” records, so called because of the colours of the album covers, originally released in 1984 and 1988.
The Red album was picked up and championed by Andy Kershaw when Ali Farka Touré was barely known outside Mali. Kershaw’s advocacy and the power of the music lead World Circuit records to go out to Mali to track down Touré. In 1987 he was brought back to London to record his first World Circuit album. He went on to record a series of albums for the record label until his death on March 6 2006.
Ali Farka Touré – Timbindy
Tinariwen – Aman Iman
You know you are getting old when … you don’t have a single album from any of the artists appearing at Glastonbury!
It’s the Glastonbury Festival this weekend. Much of the festival is being broadcast by the BBC on 6 Music (radio) and BBC Three and BBC Four (tv). We watched The Specials on Friday night and was surprised / amazed how good they were. The music was great, the playing far better than I would have thought and perfect to get a festival started.
So, it was obvious that I would have to post a Glasto related track here this weekend. I don’t have The Specials in my collection so what to post? No Springsteen here, no Neil Young, not even any Rolf Harris! At this point I resorted to the festival’s website for the full line-up. Oh dear, this is embarrassing – all these class acts and I don’t have one of their CDs.
I was just beginning to think that I might have to resort to that old get-out, post a Loudon Wainwright III track if at least one of his offspring and / or ex-partners is appearing, when I spotted Tinariwen and Fairport Convention on the bill. Phew, a post is born – Tinariwen it is!
The track is “Matadjem Yinmixan” from the 2006 album “Aman Iman : Water is Life”. I could have picked any track really, they are all amazing and all have that same compelling. chugging rhythm. And there is a new CD just out “Imidiwan : Companions” which has got great reviews.
Tinariwen – Matadjem Yinmixan