The Essence of Afrocubism

Afrocubism (World Circuit/Nonesuch, 2010)

After many years, the project of bringing together some of the finest Cuban and Malian musicians has become a reality. AfroCubism includes renowned Cuban musician Eliades Ochoa, who was the singer of the popular Buena Vista Social Club theme “Chan Chan; Malian ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate; acclaimed guitarist Djelimady Tounkara (Rail Band); Ochoa’s Grupo Patria, one of Cuba’s best known bands; kora virtuoso Toumani Diabaté; celebrated griot singer Kasse Mady Diabaté; and innovative bala (balafon) player Lassana Diabaté.

The music selection is a combination of Cuban and African vocal and instrumental pieces that capture the essence of Afro-Cuban, Malian and Cuban guajiro (country) music.

The whole album is excellent so it’s hard to point out highlights. Nevertheless, Eliades Ochoa and Djelimady Tounkara steal the show. Most people identify Eliades Ochoa because of his Cuban guajiro hat which some confuse with an American cowboy hat. Ochoa brings Cuban authenticity with his guitar and vocals and bits of humor in the lyrics. Djelimady Tounkara’s electric guitar is truly outstanding, with some of the finest African guitar licks I’ve heard in recent times.

After we’d waited so long, it all came together remarkably easily and spontaneously,” says World Circuit’s Nick Gold, who produced the album, with the Buena Vista Social Club engineer Jerry Boys at his side. “The group had never played together before but the music just poured out and it continued to flow over the next few days.”

To celebrate the November 2 North American release of the AfroCubism album Afrocubism will perform on November 7 at Berklee Performance Center in Boston and November 9 at Town Hall in New York City.

AfroCubism is a prodigious recording that embraces and intertwines the finest roots music from Cuba and Mali.

Recordings available:

In North America:

In Europe:

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