The African Xylophone Festival in New York

New York City, USA – On April 29-30, 2005, New York City will
play host to the African Xylophone Festival (AXF), the first-ever American
festival of xylophone music from across the African continent. The AXF will
feature an amazing variety of xylophones, from the spider-webbed gyil of Ghana,
and the clarion balafon of Guinea, to the enormous embaire of Uganda. This giant
21-key instrument, which takes 6 musicians to play, will be making an historic
first concert appearance in the Big Apple on April 30.The African Xylophone Festival will be presented by Jumbie Records with the
Columbia University Arts Initiative and the Center for Ethnomusicology at
Columbia University. The festival will span two nights of concerts at Satalla
and two days of workshops at Columbia University. Admission to the Satalla shows
is $20 in advance and $23 at the door. Passes to the whole festival, including
admission to both evening concerts and day-time workshops, are available online

“There’s been a surge of interest in traditional African instruments like
the xylophone
,” says Aaron Fox, Director of The Center for Ethnomusicology
at Columbia University. “But many world music lovers have no idea that there
are dozens of completely different xylophone traditions across the African
continent, each with distinct constructions, tunings, and musical styles. This
will be a unique opportunity for American audiences to get a sampling of the
amazing depth of this music

Leading international and U.S. artists will present traditional African music
originally created for funerals, ceremonies and village festivals, as well as
innovative new compositions utilizing these instruments. Highlights will

* The Bernard Woma Trio-traditional and modern compositions for gyil by the
solo xylophonist of Ghana’s National Dance Company

* The St. Ann’s African Xylophone Ensemble of Brooklyn-New York’s youngest
African xylophone ensemble, of 2nd and 3rd graders

* A first-ever collaboration between African artists Bernard Woma and Famoro

* Dallam-Dougou-innovative music finding common ground between Hungarian folk
music and the xylophone aesthetic of Guinea

* Famoro Dioubate’s “Kakande”-classical balafon repertoire of the Mande
peoples of West Africa given a New York flavor with flute, bass, cello and

* Imaginary Homeland-a jazz quartet of African xylophone, strings, and
saxophone, that slips easily across national boundaries to find a wholly
original, global sound

* Southpaw Isle Embaire Ensemble-North America’s only ensemble performing the
giant 21-key embaire xylophone of Uganda and traditional music of the Busoga

* World premiere of a new African xylophone composition commissioned by the
AXF, bringing together Ugandan embaire xylophone ensemble with modern jazz

* Lecture/demonstration at Columbia University introducing audiences to the
range and diversity of African xylophone music
* Workshops for children and adults, covering three different African xylophone

While the AXF takes place in New York, its sponsor Jumbie Records will also
be working to support xylophone traditions back in Africa. For the third year,
Jumbie Records will sponsor the Fielmuo Dance & Xylophone Festival in northwest
Ghana, which provides competitions and training for the next generation of gyil
players. The festival is organized by the chiefs and subchiefs of Fielmuo and
its surrounding villages and run by the Fielmuo Area Development Association (FADA).

Jumbie Records is honored to be contributing an electric generator to the
Kouyate family of Niagasolla to provide electricity for the protection and
preservation of the historic “Sosso-Bala.” This 800-year-old instrument is the
world’s first balafon. It has been preserved and protected by the Kouyate
family-along with the tradition of balafon music itself-since the days of the
great emperor Sundiata in the 14th Century. The Sosso-Balla was recently
designated a world historic treasure by UNESCO. Jumbie Records is honored to
acknowledge the invaluable contributions of the Kouyate family in preserving the
balafon tradition.

For a complete schedule of festival events and more information on
participating artists, visit:

Satalla is located at 37 West 26th
Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway.212.576.1155.

[Famoro Dioubate photo by Angel Romero © 2002].

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.