Live from Festival Au Desert Timbuktu (Clermont Music, 2013)
Mali is one of those extraordinary places where weddings, baptisms, celebrations and gatherings of all kinds are feted with music. Well, that was until a network of Islamic extremists took over the country. Music was banned. Musicians were forced to flee. Musical instruments were destroyed. Even the ringtone of a cellphone could earn you a beating. Fortunately, the French sent troops to intervene in January 2013 and have gained ground in forcing the extremist fighters to leave. Still, attacks continue.
As I write this, there are reports of an attack on the city of Timbuktu by fighters with the al Qaeda linked Islamic Maghreb. One thing endures though – the work of the Festival in the Desert, that cultural crossroads intent on promoting music from the Sahara and around the world. Doing your part to aid in the fight to keep the Festival going is simple as a CD purchase as a portion of each sale will go to the Festival. Live from Festival Au Desert Timbuktu is set for physical release on April 16th and digital release on April 30th. Because the music on this CD is simply priceless, doing your part should be a delight.
Recorded at the 12th edition of the Festival au Desert in 2012, this recording has got the goods from the opening welcome by Alassane Souleymanne through to Koudede’s closing number “Taghlamt.” Mohamed Al Ashaud kicks the music off with “Hymn a la Paix,” before Habib Koite warms up with audience with “Wari.” Fans get a breezy dose of the Ali Farka Toure Allstars featuring Mamadou Kelly on “Adibar,” as well as the striking track “Democratie” by the Tuareg group Tartit.
One of the standout tracks is Bassekou Kouyate’s edgy blues number “Poye.” Other goodies include some spectacular vocals on “Vaghu” by Noura Mint Saymali, “Mustt Mustt” by Kiran Alhuwala with Tinariwen backing her up and a kickass pieces like “Walahi Mbafo” by Samba Toure and the soulfully electric “Bismillah” by Oumar Konate featuring Leila Gobi. Fans also are treated to the tight neat work of Orchestre du Takamba with their offering of “Concours de la Danse.”
Despite the recent turmoil in Mali, organizers and musicians seem determined to keep the Festival in the Desert going and expanding. It is because of this continued work that Freemuse, the non-governmental organization renown for promoting peace and freedom through music, has announced that the group’s award for 2013 will go to the Festival in the Desert.
Marie Korpe, the executive director of Freemuse notes, “In spite of extreme Islamists’ attempts to silence all music in Mali, the Festival defends freedom of musical expression and struggles to continue keeping music alive in the region.”
So, the only thing left to do is your part in seeing that this music and this festival survive by listening, buying and sharing.