The Legends of Afrocubism

Eliades Ochoa in Raleigh - Photo by Angel Romero
Afrocubism, the stimulating musical collaboration that brings together some of the finest Cuban and Malian musicians, performed last evening at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. The much-anticipated concert was held outdoors at the scenic amphitheater created in collaboration with artist Barbara Kruger. Weather-wise, it turned out to be a beautiful late spring evening, with pleasant warm weather and low humidity, which is a real treat at this time of the year.

The line-up included a full Cuban band from the Santiago de Cuba area led by the legendary Eliades Ochoa of Buena Vista Social Club fame plus an all-star cast of Malian jelis (griots). Kora master Toumani Diabate entered the stage limping, with crutches. Nevertheless, his injury didn’t seem to affect his performance, which was excellent as usual.

Kora master Toumani Diabate in Raleigh - Photo by Angel Romero
The multinational band played superb extended versions from their debut album, AfroCubism, that featured musica guajira (Cuban rural music), son cubano and Manding music from Mali, mixing structured songs with jams and spectacular solos.

The line up in Raleigh included Eliades Ochoa on lead guitar and lead vocal; Toumani Diabaté on kora; Bassekou Kouyate on ngoni; Kasse Mady Diabaté on lead vocal; Djelimady Tounkara on electric guitar; Lassana Diabaté on bala (balaphone); Osnel Odit on guitar and backing vocals; Jose A. Martinez on double bass; Jorge Maturell on congas and bongos; Eglis Ochoa on maracas & backing vocals; Lennis Lara on trumpet; Alain A. Dragoni on trumpet; Yacuba Sissoko on tamani (talking drums) and calabass.

DjelimadyTounkara in Raleigh - Photo by Angel Romero
The Afrocubism album came out 13 years after a failed attempt to bring together Malian and Cuban musicians. British producer Nick Gold finally managed to complete the project. The Malians and Cubans met in Madrid, where they recorded several sessions. The result is the sensational AfroCubism album released in 2010.

The Afrocubism concert in Raleigh was co-sponsored by local nonprofit Friends of World Music. The organization has been presenting and supporting world music for over a decade. If you would like to support the organization, send your donation to Friends of World Music, PO Box 30751, Raleigh, NC 27622. Call 919-787-2798 for more information.

The Afrocubism tour is one of the highlights of the current world music concert season. Don’t miss out on this remarkable experience.

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