The “Sons of the Sahara” show is a unique collaboration in which Bombino (Niger) and Vieux Farka Touré (Mali) perform separately and together, electric and acoustic.
Goumour Almoctar, beter known as Bombino, was born on January 1, 1980, in Tidene, Niger, a settlement of nomadic Tuaregs located about 80 kilometers to the northeast of Agadez.
Bombino spent his early childhood between the encampment and the town of Agadez, the largest city in northern Niger and historically a part of the ancient Sahara trade routes connecting North Africa and the Mediterranean with West Africa.
Bombino attended a French-Arabic school that taught both French and classic Arabic.
After the first Tuareg rebellion in Mali and Niger, Bombino fled with his father and grandmother to stay with near relatives in Algeria. One day, relatives arrived from the front lines of the rebellion, carrying with them two guitars that they left behind for a few months. Bombino began to teach himself to play the guitars.
Bombino and his family decided to move back to Agadez. During a trip to Niamey, Niger for medical treatment, Bombino met with his uncle Rissa Ixa, a famous Tuareg painter, who gave him a guitar. After returning to Agadez, Bombino joined the Tuareg political party where he met the best guitarist of the party, a man named Haja Bebe. He received lessons, improving so fast that Haja Bebe invited him to join his band. It was during that time that Bombino acquired his nickname. As the youngest and smallest member of the band, the other members called him Bombino, a variation on the Italian word bambino for “little child.”
Bombino got a role as an extra in the French film Imuhar: A Legend that was filmed in the nearby desert. After finishing his work on the film, Bombino settled into life as working musician, performing at political rallies, weddings, and other ceremonies.
He argued often with his father, who did not want his son to become a musician. To escape this problem, Bombino decided to travel to Algeria and Libya in 1996. In Libya, he made friends with some local musicians, and they spent time watching videos of Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and others in an effort to master their skills. Bombino was rapidly becoming an accomplished guitarist and was in high demand as a backing musician. While working as a herder in the desert near Tripoli, Libya, Bombino spent many hours alone watching the animals and practicing his guitar.
Eventually, Bombino decided to return to Niger, where he continued to play with various local bands. As his legend grew, a Spanish documentary film crew helped Bombino record his first album, which became a local hit on Agadez radio. The success of the album validated Bombino’s choice to make a career out of music, and he began playing regularly for tourists and locals alike.
In 2006, Bombino traveled to California with the band Tidawt for a tour organized by a non-profit organization. During the trip, he recorded a desert blues version of the Rolling Stones classic “Hey Negrita” together with Stones’ members Keith Richards and Charlie Watts. The track appears on the 2008 album led by Rolling Stones saxophonist Tim Riese, titled Stone’s World: The Rolling Stones Project Volume 2.
In 2007, the second Tuareg rebellion began, and the government countermeasures were powerful and arbitrary. Many civilians were killed and farms and livestock were devastated in an effort to crush the rebellion. The government’s tactics only served to incite the Tuareg community, and many around Bombino joined the rebellion. Government forces killed two of Bombino’s musicians, so he fled in exile to Burkina Faso along with many of his fellow Tuaregs.
In 2009, he met filmmaker Ron Wyman who had heard a cassette of Bombino’s music while traveling near Agadez. Wyman was enchanted by Bombino’s music and spent a year seeking him out, eventually tracking him down to Wagadugu, Burkina Faso, where Bombino was living in exile. While there, Wyman decided to feature Bombino in a documentary he was filming about the Tuareg. Later that year, he took Bombino to Cambridge, Massachusetts to begin recording the album Agadez in his home studio.
On April 2, 2013, Bombino made his Nonesuch Records debut with the release of the album Nomad. Nomad debuted at #1 on the Billboard World Music album chart and earned enthusiastic reviews.
Bombino traveled to Woodstock, New York in late 2015 to record Azel (2015). There were a few remarkable innovations on this album. The first is the introduction of a new style Bombino is pioneering that he warmly calls ‘Tuareggae’ – a mix of Tuareg blues/rock with reggae. Another is the first-ever use of Western vocal harmonies in recorded Tuareg music.
In November 2017, Bombino and his group traveled to Casablanca, Morocco to record Deran (Partisan Records). Bombino wished to return to Africa to record and to step away from celebrity producers to create the most authentic expression of his music possible. Deran benefited from deeper involvement from his band – Youba Dia (bass), Illias Mohamed (rhythm guitar) and Corey Wilhelm (drums), and Mohamed Araki Eltayeb (keys) – in arrangement and other creative decisions.
Bombino is an advocate for teaching children the Tuareg language of Tamashek, the Berber language, as well as French and Arabic, all of which he speaks fluently. “We fought for our rights,” says Bombino, “but we have seen that guns are not the solution. We need to change our system. Our children must go to school and learn about their Tuareg identity.”
The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina has announced its 2019-2020 Performance Season, featuring a wide range of over 20 locally and nationally acclaimed artists and partners.
The ArtsCenter’s 2019-2020 Performance Season includes: Joan Osborne, Keller Williams, Leahy, Bombino & Vieux Farka Touré, John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band, Alash with special guest Shodekeh, BeauSoleil Cajun Christmas, Susan Werner, Dom Flemons, Manhattan Short Film Festival, Alice Gerrard with Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves, Kim So Ra: A Sign of Rain, Tannahill Weavers, the Holiday Circle Show and Carolyn Adams, as well as local partner events like PopUp Chorus, Transactors Improv and No Shame Theatre.
The programming for this Season explores the concept of “Global Roots” and features performers who represent and re-invent traditional musical styles from a variety of regions and cultures. One such artist is Kim So Ra, a modern master of the janggu (a Korean double-headed drum), who will appear at The ArtsCenter on September 22nd as part of her debut United States tour. For her performance A Sign of Rain, she is joined by fellow drummer Hyun Seung Hun, as well as Lim Ji Hye (on the gayageum or Korean zither), and Lee Hye Joong (on the piri or Korean bamboo oboe). This ensemble presents fluid, onomatopoetic textures from their instruments, creating an immersive aural tapestry that evokes the power, delicateness and ephemerality of a sudden rainstorm.
From the highlands of the Asian steppe, award-winning Tuvan ensemble Alash will return to The ArtsCenter for the first time since their acclaimed performance as part of The ArtsCenter’s inaugural 2016-2017 Performance Season. These masters of xöömei, or Tuvan traditional throat singing, blend Eastern and Western instruments and influences with the haunting overtones of throat singing for an experience that has to be witnessed to be believed. They are joined for their performance on October 26th by Shodokeh, a Baltimore-based beatboxer and vocal percussionist.
From the arid regions of Niger and Mali, Bombino and Vieux Farka Touré will present two contemporary interpretations of the fiery guitar style of the Sahara desert. Vieux Farka Touré was a standout performance and cover artist of the 2017-2018 Performance Season, dazzling his audience with virtuosic, highly danceable guitar grooves befitting an artist often referred to as “The Hendrix of the Sahara.” The Sons of the Sahara tour sees him join forces with Niger’s Bombino, the Grammy-nominated young guitarist quickly making a name for himself globally with his sunny blend of Tuareg blues and contemporary style. The two will perform songs both together and separately on October 13th.
The 2019-2020 Season lineup also features household names like singer-songwriter Joan Osborne (famous for her 1990’s MTV super-hit “One Of Us”) on February 9th, and master of loop-based fingerstyle guitar wizardry Keller Williams on December 6th, as well as aa American roots music from North Carolina’s living legend of old-time and bluegrass Alice Gerrard, accompanied by rising stars Allison de Groot on banjo and Tatiana Hargreaves on fiddle on September 21st.
“American Songster” Dom Flemons, a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, will bring his musical talents and repertoire of over 100 years of American traditional music to The ArtsCenter on March 20th. Celtic supergroups Leahy (March 13th) and the Tannahill Weavers (April 25th) represent the traditional folk music of Ireland and Scotland with their majestic harmonies and driving rhythms.
As part of The ArtsCenter’s continued commitment to providing high-quality arts programming at an accessible price point, tickets to over half of the performances on the 2019-2020 Season cost less than $25, and over a third cost less than $20. Tickets can be purchased at artscenter.live/2019-2020Season.
World Music Central has compiled the list of best world music albums of 2018 selected by our editors and contributors as well as our partners at the Transglobal World Music Chart and our colleagues at the European World Music Chart.
Tom Orr (USA), World Music Central
Moira Smiley – Unzip the Horizon (Moira Smiley Music)
Various Artists – Ska Around the World (Putumayo)
Opium Moon – Opium Moon (Be Why Music)
The Temple Rockers – Festival of Lights (Fresh Roots Records)
Nancy Vieira – Manha Florida (Lusafrica)
Appalatin – Vida (Appalatin)
Ram – August 1791 (Willibelle)
Bombay Rickey – Electric Bhairavi (Cowboys & Indian)
Black Masala – Trains and Moonlight Destinies (Black Masala Music)
Bokante & Metropole Orkest – What Heat (Real World)
Runner Up: Razia – The Road (Razia Said)
The best live event of the year was, without doubt, Moira Smiley’s one-of-a-kind CD release concert, an intimate and truly magical performance in the City of Angels.
Daryana Antipova (Russia), World Music Central and Transglobal World Music Chart
1) Kalascima – K (Ponderosa Music & Art)
2) Monsieur Doumani – Angathin (Monsieur Doumani )
3) Solju – Odda Áigodat (Bafe’s Factory)
4) Brigan – Rua San Giacomo (Marocco Music)
5) 47Soul – Balfron Promise (Cooking Vinyl)
6) Eva Salina & Peter Stan – Sudbina: A Portrait of Vida Pavlovic (Vogiton)
7) Yiddish Glory – The Lost Songs of World War II (Six Degrees)
8) Auli & Tautumeitas – Lai Masina Rotajas! (CPL-Music)
9) Gili Yalo – Gili Yalo (Dead Sea)
10) WoWaKin – Kraj za Miastem (WoWaKin)
Dorothy Johnson-Laird (USA), World Music Central
Jupiter & Okwess – Kin Sonic
Bombino – Deran
Manou Gallou – Afro Groove Queen
Fatoumara Diawara – Fenfo (Something to Say)
Imarhan – Temet
Samite – Resilience
Ebo Taylor – Yen Ara
Orquesta Akokán – Orquesta Akokán
Anandi Bhattacharya – Joys Abound
Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita – Soar
Madanmohan Rao (India), World Music Central and Transglobal World Music Chart
Angelique Kidjo – Remain in Light
Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra – Avo Kanto
Baul Meets Saz – Namaz
Cimbalom Brothers – Testvériség / Brotherhood
Hugh Masekela – Masekela 66-76
Indialucia – Acatao
Jivan Gasparyan Duduk Ensemble – Yeraz
Kora Jazz Trio – Part IV
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – Black Times
Stella Chiweshe – Kasahwa: Early Singles
Rafael Mieses (Dominican Republic/USA), Músicas del Mundo and and Transglobal World Music Chart
1- Chabuco – “Encuentro” (Sony Music)
2- Gabacho Maroc – Tawassol (10h10 / Cristal)
3- Malagasy Guitar Masters – Volo Hazo ( Buda Musique)
4- Marta Gómez – La Alegría y el Canto (Aluna)
5- El Naán – La Danza de las Semillas ( El Naán)
6- Ammar 808 – Maghreb United (Glitterbeat)
7- Samba Touré – Wande (Glitterbeat)
8- Ruben Blades & Winton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center “Una noche con Ruben Blades” (Blue Engine Records)
9 – Koum Tara – Koum Tara (Odradek)
10- Toko Telo – Diavola (Anio)
Arthur Shuey (USA), World Music Central
Koum Tara by Karim Maurice & Sid-Ahmed Belksier
El Berencesa by Hossam Ramzy
Daa Dee by Minyeshu
Battle of Kings by Saor Patrol
Soar by Catrin Finch/Seckou Keita
A Cry For Revolution by Los Rupay
Yiddish Glory – Various Artists
Melodic Circles by Rostami
Angel Romero Ruiz (USA), World Music Central, Músicas del Mundo and Transglobal World Music Chart
Opium Moon – Opium Moon – Be Why Music
The Gloaming – Live at the NCH – Real World Records
The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices – Boocheemish – Prophecy
Bokanté + Metropole Orkest – What Heat – Real World Records
Shooglenifty and Dhun Dhora – Written in Water – Shoogle Records
Shadi Fathi, Bijan Chemirani – Delâshena – Buda Musique
Dayramir Gonzalez – The Grand Concourse – Machat Records
Kittel & Co. – Whorls – Compass Records
El Naan – La Danza de las Semillas – El Naan
SANS – Kulku – Cloud Valley
Transglobal World Music Chart, Best Albums of 2018
Best Album of 2018
Monsieur Doumani – Angathin – Monsieur Doumani
Best of North Africa & Middle East 2018
Monsieur Doumani – Angathin – Monsieur Doumani
Best Transregional Album 2018
Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita – Soar – Bendigedig
Best of Subsaharan Africa 2018
Fatoumata Diawara – Fenfo – Montuno / Shanachie / Wagram
Best of Europe 2018
El Naán – La Danza de las Semillas – El Naán
Best of Asia (Central & East) & Pacific 2018
Anandi Bhattacharya – Joys Abound – Riverboat / World Music Network
Best of North & Central America 2018
Grupo Mono Blanco – ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz – Smithsonian Folkways
Best of South America 2018
Son Palenque – Kutu Prieta pa Saranguiá – Palenque
Best Compilation 2018
V.A. – Chikhates & Chioukhs de l’Aïta: Anthologie – Atlas Azawan
World Music Charts Europe – The top 10 in 2018
1 – Fatoumata Diawara – Fenfo – 3eme Bureau / Wagram
2 – 3MA / Rajery, Driss El Maloumi, Ballake Sissoko – Anarouz – Mad Minute Music
3 – Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita – Soar – Bendigedig
4 – Marta Gomez – La Alegria y El Canto – Aluna
5 – Dirtmusic – Bu Bir Ruya – Glitterbeat
6 – Samba Toure – Wande – Glitterbeat
7 – Djeneba & Fousco – Kayeba Khasso – Lusafrica
8 – Dur-Dur Band – Dur Dur of Somalia Vol 1 & 2 – Analog Africa
9 – Monsieur Doumani – Angathin – Monsieur Doumani
10 – Calypso Rose – So Calypso! – Because Music
headline photo: Fatoumata Diawara at Shakori Hills – Photo by Angel Romero
Turareg musician Bombino continues to dominate the Transglobal World Music Chart with a repeat number 1 spot in June 2016.
1. Bombino – Azel (Partisan Records)
2. Lakou Mizik – Wa Di Yo (Cumbancha)
3. Aziza Brahim – Abbar el Hamada (Glitterbeat Records)
4. 2016: Afro Celt Sound System – The Source – ECC Records
5. Yo-Yo Ma & Silk Road Ensemble – Sing Me Home (Sony Masterworks)
6. Anoushka Shankar – Land of Gold (Deutsche Grammophon)
7. La Banda Morisca – Algarabya (Fol Música)
8. Konono Nº1 meets Batida – Konono Nº1 meets Batida (Crammed Discs)
9. Damir Imamović’s Sevdah Takht – Dvojka (Glitterbeat Records)
10. Fanfare Ciocărlia – Onwards to Mars! (Asphalt Tango Records)
11. Elza Soares – The Woman at the End of the World / A Mulher do Fim do Mundo (Mais Um Discos)
13. The Gloaming – 2 (Real World Records)
14. DagaDana – Meridian 68 (Karrot Kommando)
15. Rokia Traoré – Né So (Nonesuch Records)
16. Quintet Bumbac – Libre Voyage dans les Musiques des Balkans (Collectif Çok Malko)
17. Deolinda – Outra Histórias (Universal Music)
18. V.A. – Every Song Has its End: Sonic Dispatches from Traditional Mali (Glitterbeat Records)
19. Ana Alcaide – Leyenda (ARC Music)
20. M.A.K.U. Soundsystem – Mezcla (Glitterbeat Records)
Azel, the new album by Nigerien guitarist, singer-songwriter and composer Bombino has reached the top of the Transglobal World Music Chart in May 2016.
May 2016 Chart
1. Bombino – Azel (Partisan Records)
2. Aziza Brahim – Abbar el Hamada (Glitterbeat Records)
3. Rokia Traoré – Né So (Nonesuch Records)
4. La Banda Morisca – Algarabya (Fol Música)
5. Konono Nº1 meets Batida – Konono Nº1 meets Batida (Crammed Discs)
6. Lakou Mizik – Wa Di Yo (Cumbancha)
7. Fanfare Ciocărlia – Onwards to Mars! (Asphalt Tango Records)
8. The Gloaming – 2 (Real World Records)
9. Stefano Saletti & Banda Ikona – Soundcity – Finisterre
10. Katerina Tsiridou – Aman Katerina: A Tribute to Panayiotis Toundas (Protasis Music)
11. Sociedade Recreativa – Sociedade Recreativa (La Chaudière Production / Jarring Effects)
12. Damir Imamović’s Sevdah Takht – Dvojka (Glitterbeat Records)
13. V.A. – Every Song Has its End: Sonic Dispatches from Traditional Mali (Glitterbeat Records)
14. Las Hermanas Caronni – Navega Mundos (Les Grands Fleuves)
15. Anoushka Shankar – Land of Gold (Deutsche Grammophon)
16. DagaDana – Meridian 68 (Karrot Kommando)
17. Sidestepper – Supenatural Love (Real World Records)
18. Elza Soares – The Woman at the End of the World / A Mulher do Fim do Mundo (Mais Um Discos)
19. Karsh Kale – Up (Six Degrees Records)
20. Päre – Hausjärvi Beat (Zebo Records)
21. 2016: Afro Celt Sound System – The Source (ECC Records)
22. Pedro Soler & Gaspar Claus – Al Viento (InFiné)
23. Pulsar Trio – Cäthes traum (T3 Records)
24. Filippo Gambetta – Otto Baffi (Filippo Gambetta)
25. Eva Salina – Lema Lema: Eva Salina Sings Šaban Bajramović (Vogiton Records)
26. Manuel Volpe & Rhabdomantic Orchestra – Albore (Agogo Records)
27. Zulya and the Children of the Underground – On Love and Science (Zulya and the Children of the Underground)
28. Amsterdam Klezmer Band – Oyoyoy (Amsterdam Klezmer Band)
29. Vesevo – Vesevo (Agualoca Records)
30. Michael Messer’s Mitra – Call of the Blues (Knife Edge Records)
31. Osei Korankye – Seperewa of Ghana: Ɛmmerɛ nyina nsɛ (Akwaaba Music)
32. Vigüela – Temperamento (ARC Music)
33. Ex aequo:
Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina – De Cerca (Universal Music Spain)
Galandum Galundaina – Quatrada (Açor)
35. Claudia Aurora – Mulher do Norte (Red Orange Recordings)
36. Joseph Tawadros – World Music (Joseph Tawadros)
37. Rocky Marsiano – Meu Kamba Vol. Dois (Akwaaba Music)
38. Kimi Djabaté – Kanamalu (Red Orange Recordings)
39. Seheno – Hazo Kely (Lokanga)
40. Afenginn – Opus (Tutl / Westpark Music)
In 2007, several Tuareg groups rebelled in Niger and in Mali. It was the not the very first instance of Tuareg rebellion in Niger and in Mali and the same had happened and belongs to a history of Tuareg rebellion in the region. The Tuareg are an ambitious people forever in search of a new political reality and the project can only influence their cultural ambitions.
Tuaregs produce many great musicians and one of them is Bombino. Bombino’s most recent album Azel, released on Partisan Records on April 1, is an album abundant in beautiful guitar playing. The fact that Bombino sings as he plays the guitar makes this an album that will be partially misunderstood by any English speaker, unless if the songs’ Tamasheq (Tuareg language) lyrics are translated. However, it is possible to be fully invested in this album without understanding the lyrics.
The album’s abundance of guitar playing is the most striking part of the whole affair and delivers an incredible experience for the listener. The word abundance is generally used to denote a very large quantity of something in a positive way; an abundance of anything alludes to an amount of wealth.
Abundance can get very close to being saturation and is a balancing act if being purposely produced. In music, when it’s good, an abundance of anything is celebrated by most. Minimalism is often applauded by professional critics but never as popular as rhythmic, melodic, harmonic abundance, or the abundance of a single instruments participation in a song. It’s hard to pull off however and can become very annoying.
An economy of instrument playing is easier to pull off. In the societies of less developed countries, a song’s abundance can make heroes of out certain musicians: an abundance of chords or poetry in a song’s lyrics can momentarily change day to day morbidity or hardship or affirm one’s existence.
This album is not what is expected from Tuareg music and it’s clear that Bombino did not want this album to be. Bombino combines American idioms with African string playing. He does this with erudition and by never once seeming not confident in his aesthetic.
Azel is an album to listen to attentively.
Tuareg guitarist and singer-songwriter Bombino has a new album titled “Azel” scheduled for release on April 1, 2016 on Partisan Records.
The Nigerien artist has released a music video featuring Inar”, one of the tracks in the album. The video was directed by Ron Wyman of Zero Gravity Films.
Bombino North American Tour Dates
3/22/2016 – Toronto, ONT – Horseshoe Tavern
3/23/2016 – Montréal, QC – Centre Phi
3/24/2016 – Burlington, VT – ArtsRiot
3/25/2016 – Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
3/26/2016 – New York, NY – Africa Now at The Apollo
3/29/2016 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
3/30/2016 – Washington, DC – The Hamilton
3/31/2016 – Athens, GA – Slingshot Festival
4/1/2016 – Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival
4/2/2016 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In
4/3/2016 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
4/5/2016 – Indianapolis, IN – The Hifi
4/6/2016 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
4/7/2016 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall – supporting Galactic
4/8/2016 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues – supporting Galactic
4/9/2016 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue – supporting Galactic
4/11/2016 – Louisville, KY – The New Vintage
4/12/2016 – St Louis, MO – Old Rock House
4/13/2016 – Lawrence, KS – Granada
4/15/2016 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
4/16/2016 – Aspen, CO – Belly Up
4/17/2016 – Salt Lake City, UT – The State Room
4/20/2016 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern
4/21/2016 – Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom
4/22/2016 – Oakland, CA – New Parish
4/23/2016 – San Francisco, CA – The Independent
4/24/2016 – Santa Cruz, CA – Kuumbwa Center
4/27/2016 – Grass Valley, CA – Center for the Arts
4/28/2016 – Portland, OR – Star Theater
4/29/2016 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile Cafe
4/30/2016 – Vancouver, BC – Imperial Theatre