République Amazone (Amazon Republic) brings together some of West Africa’s best female singers with highly percussive electronic music.
While the women provide the lead and background vocals, Irish producer Liam Farrell, also known as Doctor L, contributes most of the instruments in the form of electronic bass and beats. The focus is on powerful, deep bass sounds, developing a hybrid sound that combines traditional world music vocals and club-style dance beats.
Les Amazones d’Afrique (the African amazons) include Angélique Kidjo, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Mariam Doumbia, Mariam Koné, Massan Coulibaly, Mouneissa Tandina, Nneka, Pamela Badjogo and Rokia Koné.
Additional instrumentalists on some of the songs include Mouneissa Tandina on drums, Mamadou Diakité on guitar, Harouna Samaké on kamele ngoni, Vincent Courtois on cello, Patrick Ruffino on bass.
Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita’s album Transparent Water (Ota Records, 2017) is the Transglobal World Music Chart’s number one album for March 2017.
Transparent Water elegantly combines world music and jazz. The album features Omar Sosa (Cuba) on piano and Seckou Keita (Senegal) on kora along with traditional Chinese flute player Wu Tong, Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles, and Japanese koto player Mieko Miyazaki.
African music festival Africa Oyé has announced the first artists scheduled to perform this year. Headlining the anniversary concerts in June will be festival favorites Dizzy Mandjeku & Odemba OK Jazz All-Stars, Jupiter & Okwess International, and Mokoomba.
Africa Oyé will take place Saturday, June 17th and Sunday, June 18th, 2017 at Sefton Park in Liverpool (UK). Admission is free.
Along with the main stage, the Oyé Village will be providing the public a variety of global foods, workshops, dance classes, merchants and DJs and more. The festival will also provide child-friendly entertainment so festival-goers can bring the whole family.
“It’s amazing to be able to look back at the last 25 years and pick some of our favorites to return for this celebration,” says Artistic Director, Paul Duhaney. “The festival this year will be the centerpiece of a whole year of gigs and events and I couldn’t be happier with the first acts that we’ve announced.”
The festival is funded by Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council.
Canadian banjo explorer Jayme Stone is a musician straddling bluegrass, jazz, old time and African music.
Jayme Stone picked up a passion for music from an eccentric uncle who listened to records endlessly, placing his ashtray on the speaker so Stone could join him in watching how the cigarette smoke swirled to the music.
An unlikely set of circumstances has lent Stone a broader set of reference points than most banjoists and those early beginnings have influenced his sound, choice of material, and collaborations. It started with the architecture of the banjo, led to a mysterious librarian who stocked his local public library with a vast trove of banjo recordings, and landed him long-lasting lessons with a series of maestros, from Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka, to Dave Douglas and Bill Frisell.
His CD titled The Utmost (2007), was co-produced by David Travers-Smith, was made possible through assistance from the Music Section of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Jayme spent several weeks in Mali in 2007, where he sought out the roots of the banjo. His exploits included sitting in at Toumani Diabate’s Hogon nightclub with Toumani’s twenty piece Symmetric Orchestra.
Jayme Stone now leads 2 quartets – the eponymous JSQ and the Africa to Appalachia project.
JSQ’s repertoire is diverse, ranging from a twelve-part composition in eleven, a dirge for Ray Charles, and a medley of Appalachian fiddle tunes all in the same set. They travel from bluegrass hoedowns to jazz festivals.
The Africa to Appalachia project evolved from Jayme’s travels to West Africa to learn the history of his instrument, the banjo. Although Stone’s mission was to uncover common musical ground between Africa and Appalachia – like the shared affinity for sustaining culture and the similar open-string styles – he found the differences between two continents just as intriguing. This is the sound of traditional music re-imagined.
In 2015, Stone released Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project, a collaboration with several acclaimed musicians, including Tim O’Brien, Bruce Molsky, Margaret Glaspy, Moira Smiley, Brittany Haas, Julian Lage and others.
Music fans should settle in and enjoy the sumptuous ride that is Transparent Water. Co-creator Omar Sosa, the Cuban-born composer, bandleader and pianist, has such recordings as Eggun – The Afri-Lectric Experience, Jog, Ile and Calma under his belt, while Seckou Keita, the Senegalese kora master, has released albums like 22 Strings/Cordes, Afro-Mandinka Soul with his own Seckou Keita Quartet and Clychau Dibon. Joining forces under the Ota Records label, Transparent Water, set for release on February 24th, pairs Mr. Sosa’s Afro-Cuban and jazz sensibilities with the lush African traditions of Mr. Keita’s long musical legacy of his griot family.
Transparent Water is where world music meets world jazz, where tradition meets improvisation and where the lines of spiritual and earthy meet. The result is stunningly evocative.
With Mr. Sosa on piano, Fender Rhodes, sampling, microKorg and vocals and Mr. Keita firmly enticing listeners with his kora mastery, as well as talking drum, djembe, sabar and vocals, listeners are treated to the interplay between these two musicians and composers. But as luck would have it, Mr. Sosa and Mr. Keita turn the music on its ears with the additions of Chinese musician Wu Tong on sheng and bawu; Japanese koto master Mieko Miyazaki; Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles on bata drums, culo’puya, maracas, guataca, calabaza and clave; Korean geojungo player E’Joung-Ju; and Rajasthani nagadi player Mosin Khan Kawa.
Cuban rhythms, African melodies and Asian influences pile up, separate and mesh together in an expansive musical tapestry where it’s impossible to pull at one musical thread and undo the lot.
Like water, Transparent Water flows easy from the jazzy opening track “Dary” into the delicately piano and kora interplay of “In the Forest.” Lush track flows into lush track with goodies like the sheng laced “Black Dream,” the catchy African influenced “Mining-Nah” with Mr. Keita’s vocals warming up the track and mysteriously moody “Another Prayer.”
Listeners can’t help but be charmed by tracks like sassy offering “Fatiliku,” the dreamy musical landscape of “Oni Yalorde” with Mr. Tong on the bawu or the piano lines of “Zululand.” Transparent Water is one of those recordings that requires listeners stop and really listen and it’s best if you just go with its flow.
Mr. Sosa, Mr. Keita and company have conjured up a truly brilliant collaboration on Transparent Water. Mesmerizing, evocative and sophisticated, Transparent Water begs for a listen.
It’s not likely I’ll ever get a handle on just how many great African musicians are out there, despite over three decades of loving and collecting music from the continent that’s arguably the root of all things musical. Recent arrivals at my doorstep have numerically favored new (to me) artists over those I’ve long loved listening to. No problem- the more African music I get wind of, the happier I am. And I don’t anticipate the well running dry.
South African born and presently based in Montreal, Lorraine Klaasen offers up a rousing helping of Township-influenced music on Nouvelle Journee (Justin Time Records, 2016). The production is modern but the feel is traditional, complete with rich call-and-response vocals, lots of rim accents on the drums, guitars that ring out strong and a clear jazz influence on some tracks. That last is not surprising, given that Lorraine’s mother Thandie was a renowned jazz singer.
The younger Klaasen sings in multiple languages and a corresponding number of moods ranging from pensive and personal (“Polokwane”) to renewed vigor (the title track) to cautionary (“Where to Now”). Electric and acoustic musical backing frames Klaasen’s classy vocals to perfection, helping to make this a new day you’ll be glad you woke up to.
Montreal also appears to have been the main recording site for Melokaane (Pump Up The World, 2015) by Senegalese singer/composer/percussionist Elage Diouf, who laid further tracks for his second album in Toronto, Paris and Dakar. Diouf’s brand of Afropop is similar to that of Youssou N’Dour, though his vocals are more mellow than muezzin. I’d peg him as a kind of African Peter Gabriel even if he didn’t cover Gabriel’s “Secret World” (in Wolof) on this disc, given his skill with musical hooks that are both melodic and melancholic.
Touches of reggae, Latin and more recognizably Senegalese styles (such as m’balax) figure into his arrangements, which are brought to life by a tasteful blend of real instruments and programming. Anthem-like tributes to Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lubumba and Thomas Sankara stand out most on first listening, but the balance of ambient and organic sounds that support Diouf’s sagely vocals make the whole thing a treat.
The mischievous grin that Sierra Leone’s Seydu sports on the cover his CD Sadaka (Fol Musica, 2016) might make you think he’s up to no good. But really he’s looking to both preserve and expand upon the palm wine style of music for which his native land has long been noted. The disc’s title translates as “The Gift,” and it’s one given with laid-back charm and grace.
Seydu has the voice of a musical storyteller and his songs speak of essential things like lending a helping hand, appreciating beauty, remembering your roots and preserving tradition. Percolating, slightly insistent beats propel the tracks, with an overlay of acoustic and electric sounds sweetening vocals that don’t try to raise the roof and don’t need to. This music permeates slowly but completely, and guest turns by Lokua Kanza and Mariem Hassan add to its unfaltering beauty.
A new release by Jose Adelino Barcelo de Carvalho, better known as Bonga, the king of Afro-Portuguese music, is always a reason to rejoice. The impact of his landmark Angola 72 album during Angola’s struggle for independence from Portugal cannot be overstated. Although these days he’s making music with less of a freedom fighter aesthetic, his grandly grainy voice is still one of the most distinctive on the planet.
Recados De Fora (Lusafrica, 2016) is something of a look back, with Bonga covering influential songs by B. Leza (“Odji Maguado”) and Alfredo Ricardo do Nascimento (“Sodade, Meu Bem, Sodade”) as well as paying lyrical tribute to the African and Portuguese dualities that shaped his musical outlook.
The upbeat tracks are laced with acoustic guitar, bass, piano, accordion and chattering percussion (even some fairly uncharacteristic horns here and there) while the slower, sparser ones are no less classic in their showcasing of Bonga as a balladeer influenced equally by Angolan pride and those vestiges of colonialism that were worth keeping. It’s all Bonga at his finest, which is to say you won’t want to be without it.
Africa Oyé, the UK’s largest free festival dedicated to African and Caribbean music and culture, will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary during Saturday, June 17th and Sunday, June 18th, 2017 at Sefton Park in Liverpool.
This year the world music festival will present artists from Oye’s 25-year history. “We decided that it would be fitting to feature a retrospective line-up of acts for Oyé 25,” says Oyé’s Artistic Director, Paul Duhaney. “The festival and organization has come so far since the days of the city center and Concert Square and this is a chance to celebrate our birthday with friends from Liverpool and around the world“.
Africa Oye’s 2017 program will also include film screenings, gigs, parties and exhibitions.
African music festival Sauti za Busara announced today the 2017 lineup. The festival will take place February 9 – 12, 2017 in Stone Town, Zanzibar (Tanzania).
Sauti za Busara will present the following acts live on three stages:
Freshlyground (South Africa); Rocky Dawuni (Ghana); Yamoto Band (Tanzania); Sarabi (Kenya); Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band (Ghana); Simba & Milton Gulli (Mozambique); Jagwa Music (Tanzania); Bob Maghreb (Morocco); Karyna Gomes (Guinea Bissau); Sami Dan and Zewd Band (Ethiopia); Chibite Zawose Family (Tanzania); Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar); Wahapahapa Band (Tanzania); Buganda Music Ensemble (Uganda); Batimbo Percussion Magique (Burundi); Kyekyeku (Ghana); H_art the Band (Kenya); Grace Barbe (Seychelles); Roland Tchakounté (Cameroon / France); Imena Cultural Troupe (Rwanda); Isau Meneses (Mozambique); Jessica Mbangeni (South Africa); Sahra Halgan Trio (Somaliland); Tausi Women’s Taarab (Zanzibar); CAC Fusion (Tanzania); Ze Spirits Band (Tanzania); Loryzine (Reunion); Madalitso Band (Malawi); Mswanu Gogo Vibes (Tanzania); G Clef Taarab Orchestra (Zanzibar); Afrijam Band (Tanzania); Cocodo African Music Band (Tanzania); Kiumbizi (Pemba / Zanzibar); Rico and the Band (Zanzibar); Usambara Sanaa Group (Tanzania); Mcharuko Band (Zanzibar); Taarab – Kidumbak Group.
Three exciting African music acts, Mbongwana Star, Batida and Young Paris are set to perform on Sunday, August 14, 2016 at Central Park in Manhattan. Admission is free.
Mbongwana Star comes from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Founding members Coco Ngambali and Theo Nzonza (of Staff Benda Bilili fame) assembled members of a new generation of Kinshasa musicians exemplifying the concept of “mbongwana,” or “change.” Together with Parisian producer Doctor L (Tony Allen, Stomy Bugsy), Mbongwana Star has created a sound that mixes traditional Congolese rhythms with rock bass and electronics made from recycled and reconstructed instruments. Their album is titled From Kinshasa.
Batida is Angolan artist Pedro Coquenão along with more musicians, images and people masked that sings and dance on stage. Dois is his latest album released on the British Soundway Records last year.
Milandou Badila, known as Young Paris, delivers a cross between rap and electronic dance music and samples heavily from traditional African drum beats. Along with five of his ten brothers and sisters, Young Paris performs live shows that merge dance and performance art.
DJ Underdog was born in Panama, DJ Underdog arrived to Washinton DC at age seven with his mother. He’s played many festivals like Coachella and Celebrate Brooklyn.
Cameroonian bassist and singer-songwriter Richard Bona has a new album titled Heritage, scheduled for release on September 16 in the United States. To promote the album he will be touring the United States in September 2016.
Heritage, Bona’s eighth, is the first with the Afro-Cuban band Mandekan Cubano. This recording follows the roots of Afro-Cuban music back to its origins in the Mandekan Empire of the 15th century and earlier. The music explores the alchemy of African rhythms in Cuba.