Category Archives: Mali

Cheb Mami, Passi, Youssou N’Dour, Papa Wemba, Femi Kuti & Rokia Traore – Mali 2002 : Mali Song of the Week

There are moments in history where football and music have sat perfectly together. An inseparable double-act able of catapulting human emotions to places not thought possible. Music is sometimes the only means by which we can comprehend those moments, and the best aid we have to relive them. Thanks to the BBC’s coverage of France 98 rarely can a hint of Garbiel Faure’s ‘Pavane’ go by without daydreams of a plucky Michael Owen or the majesty of Zinedine Zidane. In the last week, a splendid recreation of one of these special moments was orchestrated by Leicester City’s Italian manager Claudio Renieri. The Foxes’ magical Premier League triumph has been made all the more glorious when Andrea Bocelli stepped out to put on a ‘spine-tingling‘ rendition of Nessun Dorma at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, making the official presentation of their title achievement all the more globally and historically resonant. The song is so strongly associated with the sensational Luciano Pavarotti and the romance of Italia 90 it provided the perfect catalyst for further dreaming about a reawakening of football, a collective nostalgia groping for a sign of those ‘better days’ resigned to ones childhood, now lost in the commercial mist of modern football. The dreams of glory had been steadily ground away. Abandoned after so many humiliations. At best they were merely delusions, surely? Thought forever lost to a grotesque contemporary agenda of merchandising, agent fees, and headlines about TV rights, that fledgling optimism has been plucked out like a dusty cassette full of treasured songs.

The 23rd African Cup of Nations of 2002 was held in Mali. In a continent besotted by football West Africa is its powerhouse, contributing the vast majority of winners and participants of previous tournaments. Cameroon, Africa’s most successful international team, won the tournament of 2002, with a good Malian side finishing 4th in its first tournament since 1994. After 2002, Mali’s national side picked up another 4th place finish and later back-to-back bronze medals in 2012-13. With a pair of joint top scorers in the last decade also, it represents an good era of Malian football. But, the natural order was restored, as it all came crashing down in the cruellest of ways in the tournament of 2015. Mali was drawn into a group of death. Cameroon, Guinea and Ivory Coast would battle with Les Aigles in Equatorial Guinea for two precious tickets to the knock-out stages. The end of a tense and frankly ridiculous week in Group D saw five of the six games end as 1 – 1 draws, with Cameroon unexpectedly slumping to the bottom of the group following a 1 – 0 defeat to Ivory Coast, sending Les Éléphants through top. So suddenly it was down to Guinea and Mali for the 2nd and final spot. Level on points, equal on their ‘head-to-head’ records, the same goals scored and same goals conceded. At every turn the teams were statistically inseparable, but someone had to go home. It boiled down to a drawing of lots, with Guinea progressing on nothing more than luck. Imagine the pandemonium if England were booted out of a World Cup after losing a coin-toss to Germany…

Of course, every international tournament needs a song, and the cobbled together unofficial, impulsive tunes always turn out to be much more entertaining than any of the official dross that usually rolled out. So here comes “Mali 2002” a fine specimen of multi-nation, multi-genred thumping, feel-good, comfortably-tacky AfroPop. A beautiful collaborative mess of six artists from a selection of the 2002 tournament’s competing countries. Attributed through YouTube to Algerian singer-songwriter Cheb Mami, the song also has vocals from Mali’s Rokia Traore, Nigerian Afrobeat hero Femi Kuti, Senegalese all-rounder Youssou N’Dour (also a successful actor, businessman and politician) and a set of Congolese: the hip-hop artist Passi and the late, great Papa Wemba, who sadly passed away in April this year. The song summarises all that is great about these peaceful,coming-togethers of different peoples – the vibrancy, the interaction of cultures of ideas, the crazy fun; all facilitated by the passions and marvels of football.

Rokia Traore was the only woman in this pan-African line up. As Mali’s national team enters a period of transition it can look to its youth for those future dreams, that allusive yet recycling optimism. For the first time it appears it can also look to its women. Earlier this month it was announced that Mali would soon be getting its first national women’s football league comprised of a respectable 12 teams. With the popularity, and subsequent wealth, of women’s football growing steadily world-wide, Mali’s women see this as an opportunity to build successful careers and – perhaps one day – proudly carry the hopes of a nation into the prestige and glamour of an international tournament.

And as Mali steps into this new uncharted world, once again the perpetual wisdom of Nessun Dorma will help us transform this into an age of optimism if we but listen. The song, famous for its steady, soaring procession to the most thundering of climaxes summarises the spirit of Leicester City’s story and that of any perennial underdog; it forces us to defy what has come before and dream:

 

Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All’alba vincerò!
Vincerò! Vincerò!

Vanish, o night!
Fade, you stars!
Fade, you stars!
At dawn, I will win!
I will win! I will win!

 

 

Cheb Mami, Passi, Youssou N’Dour, Papa Wemba, Femi Kuti & Rokia Traore – Mali 2002

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Amadou & Mariam – Se Te Djon Ye : Mali Song of the Week

 ‘Se Te Djon Ye’ starts like a long lost Metallica song. A silky guitar running free, in a distinctive steady and folksy manner. Then that voice appears – not Metallica then. Or at least not just Metallica. Not entirely prepared to abandon my instinct, I consider that this is perhaps a new classic; a collaboration between a previously unknown African artist and the US heavy metal legends? Nope. Its Amadou & Mariam from start to finish. If I was ever surprised I should be equally ashamed.

Like the previous Amadou & Mariam song to make it onto the Hub – ‘Dougou Badia’ – this is may be another “chuffing great masterstroke of genre-less genre mixing“. But  ‘Se Te Djon Ye’ is not genre-less (whatever that means). It is in fact a hint of where Amadou & Mariam began their on their journey to international acclaim. Having first released ‘Se Te Djon Ye’ in 1996 (some 17 years before ‘Dougou Badia’) its is an example of the couple’s very earliest commercial work; coming from a group of songs created and released on audio cassette solely for a domestic and African audience. The lead up to and “international break-through” success with the album Sou Ni Tilé in 1999 encouraged them to rediscover some of their earlier work. ‘Se Te Djon Ye’ became the title track on an album with a whole range of intriguing clues to the duo’s earliest influences and harks to a period of their artistry which was not created with a global audience immediately in mind.

Perhaps the influence of Metallica and other American and European rock bands did come in to play in these early days. But the 1990s was an age of learning for the Western world too. A well-told story is the one of the ‘discovery’ of Ali Farka Toure in 1993/94. More accurately: his arrival on the world music scene forced a realisation in the US that blues wasn’t entirely their invention, only a style borrowed and redeveloped. And so once again here, Amadou & Mariam’s piece points to the complex world of flowing and interconnected musical expansion which is so evident and enjoyed in the music of this west African country.

 

 

Amadou & Mariam – Se Te Djon Ye 

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Moussa Diallo – Koulékan : Mali Song of the Week

The African Elephant is staggering towards extinction. In the time it will take you to read this article and listen to the excellence of Moussa Diallo and his band an African Elephant would have been killed. Mali has a very special kind of desert elephant which roams, in dwindling numbers, around the central/northern region between Timbuktu and Gao. These elephants are not thought to be a subspecies in their own right, but rather a group of the majestic creatures that have learned to survive in this particularly harsh climate and are the northern-most herds of Africa. They migrate great distances, covering over 370 miles of this sparse land annually, sometimes taking them into Burkina Faso and Niger, in an anti-clockwise route tracing temporary and permanent waterholes (check out this cool interactive map from National Geographic). Once widespread across the deserts of Africa, today the only other place you can find desert elephants is Namibia. In Mali there are only 300 left. This number is coming down rapidly, overwhelmingly as a result of poaching – the means by which 80 of these elephants lost their lives in 2015 alone. It doesn’t take much of a mathematician to figure that it will not be many years before these animals will disappear forever.

Malians have not stood by and watched this happen, but there is little they can do. In 2008 locals tried their best to nurse the herds through drought and in another drought in the 1980s the government responded by trucking in water. Poaching, however, it the biggest threat and to combat this you need a strong police and military presence. Sadly, Mali’s military is a little tied up at present and even if the resources were available, as they are more readily in South Africa, the criminals are still likely to slip away and carry on regardless in this vast, open land. Perhaps Mali could consider enlisting the support of a foreign ally, as will happen when the British Army fly in to partner up with the National Parks Agency of Gabon.

So how to celebrate the desert elephant while it’s still around? Well, to try and lighten the mood we’ve turned to bassist Moussa Diallo. The low, thumping tones suits the movements of the fantastic beasts well. For further metaphorical musical mirroring we can go one better; one of Diallo’s most successful musical collaborations of his career was with internationally-acclaimed Danish trumpet player Palle Mikkelborg as part of “The Kinkéliba Project” in July 2000. With many Malian musicians gravitating towards Cuban/Latin influences to guide their careers, it is refreshing to see a Malian with the ability to compose, arrange and bring together many other West African and European artists opt for a more jazz-fusion focus to his work; bringing together Mali – the land of his father – and Denmark – the land of his mother. It is a coming together of which this week’s Song of the Week is a fabulous and triumphant example.

 

Moussa Diallo – Koulékan

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Ali Farka Toure – Tulumba : Mali Song of the Week

Ali Farka Toure songs are never short of emotion. ‘Tulumba’ announces itself triumphantly which somewhat betrays the rest of the song. It continues in at the pace of a melancholic shanty, not despairing but grieving.

And there is much to grieve over in the last week of Malian life. On April 14th the great and widely celebrated Malian photographer Malick Sidibé passed away in Bamako aged 80. In a delightful tribute, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, International Correspondent with NPR, described the effect Sidibé’s death has had on the country through the words of Mali’s culture minister, N’Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo. He was undoubtedly a “national treasure” whose loss the entire country is mourning.

The war in the north of Mali has seen a bloody week. Civilians, soldiers and humanitarians all falling victim to the enduring instability, growing distrust and angst at a wretched situation of which no one appears to have the strength to control. In that void violence thrives. The International Committee of the Red Cross announced on Monday that for a month three of its aid workers on assignment in deep in the north in Abeibara had been missing. Only a week before this announcement, three French soldiers had been killed in a landmine blast during a routine drive from Gao with President Hollande expressing “deep sadness” upon hearing the news. And perhaps most troubling of all is the situation in Kidal. Reports from Mali on April 19th describe how a street protest formed to demonstrate against arrests made by French and UN forces which they allege were arbitrary and undermined peace efforts. The situation turned violent resulting in 4 deaths, 7 injuries – 2 seriously – a trashed airport, and shots fired, reportedly by UN soldiers as much as anyone else.

In these desperate times we must consider the wisdom of Toure and Sidibé – these two late, great Malians – and not slip so easily into sorrow and defeat. Artists leave us with gifts, new tools to understand and interpret the world. In 2008, Sidibé told The Daily Telegraph “For me, photography is all about youth…It’s about a happy world full of joy, not some kid crying on a street corner or a sick person.” Writing about the motivation to create the album Niafunké (named after his beloved home town) from which ‘Tulumba’ hails, Ali Farka Toure explained that:

“My music is about where I come from and our way of life and it is full of important messages for Africans. In the West perhaps this music is just entertainment and I don’t expect people to understand. But I hope some might take the time to listen and learn.”

So whilst we can rejoice in the magic that these artists produce, we must also consider their approach and look deeper. We must allow ourselves to be challenged by what is being presented to us. This may appear difficult without access to context or language and perhaps as a Westerner it can never be fully understood. But this spectacular photography and music is unquestionably stirring. It makes an impression on us. Let’s gather that feeling up and at the very least we can try and understand it, unpick it, respond to it and see what we learn from there. Perhaps there is a way through.

 

 

Ali Farka Toure – Tulumba

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Rokia Traoré – Tu Voles : Mali Song of the Week

“Tu Voles”/”You fly” sings Rokia in this glorious opener to her 2016 album Né So. Where the album title itself means ‘home‘ this week’s Song means the opposite. “Home” is intended as “an invitation to think about the idea of ‘home'” and the privilege that comes with having one, whereas “Tu Voles” is about striving and escapism.

You fly, from every hurt, you release yourself, and you swim through the air, you fly…

Delving deeper; are the songs in fact on a similar theme? In both Traore encourages us to consider the plight of those that have no home and sings to us and imposes a character on us of a person so ill at ease, frightened, intimidated, troubled they resort to metaphor; they achieve that universal, impossible dream of humankind through force of will alone. This in a way is Traore’s trademark – using the beauty and vulnerability of “her raspy, quavering voice” to encourage empathy. Mark Hudson of The Telegraph notes that this must be a reflection of “the gravity” of her recent experience – and that of her homeland – noting that the album “is subdued, moody, even dark at times.” He continues;

“Since her last album, 2013’s buoyant and optimistic Beautiful Africa, she’s seen her homeland torn apart by a brutal civil war, including the recent Islamist atrocity in the capital Bamako, and has been beset by a more general sense of “things falling apart”.”

In her own way, Traoré has taken flight herself, with her artistry safely stowed in the overhead compartment. She like so many of Mali’s musicians has become a self-appointed ambassador for her country constantly flying worldwide to tell the rest of us what Mali is all about. To encourage the celebration of its beauty and understanding of its struggles. After taking up a very prestigious place on the Cannes Film Festival Main Jury last year, Traoré will be taking to the greatest stage of all this summer after being confirmed in the Glastonbury line-up – the festival continuing its marvellous support of Mali’s musicians. Malian’s have also been confirmed at a range of other festivals for example, Songhoy Blues have just completed a Tour in Australia and New Zealand, taking in those respective countries’s WOMAD festival. Back in the UK, WOMAD has yet to grace the shores of this soggy island in 2016, the festival scheduled for 28th-31st July. There French fiddle will meet Malian kora, percussion and vocals in the form of the exciting collaborative new-comers N’Diale.

So with the importance of her message evident here’s to hoping that Rokia is rewarded with one of the weekend’s precious “sunset slots” where the magic of the festival is unveiled in its entirety; liquid gold streaming around the summit of Glastonbury Tor, streaming down its sides, an image that defines the majesty of the place. Tens of thousands in a sun-soak crowd, basking in the immediacy of that fading moment before the giver of all life creeps away to brighten up a new day elsewhere on Earth.

Well, it’s that or it’ll be lashing it down with rain.

 

 

Rokia Traoré – Tu Voles

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Issa Bagayogo – Saye Mogo Bana : Mali Song of the Week

Previously, Issa Bagayogo has been applauded primarily for his wizardry in the use of electronic instruments – drum machines, samplers – to create a distinctive and exceptional “groove” by combining them with the more conventional sounds of Mali. This week’s Song has been plucked out to try and emphasise another string to his bow. ‘Saye Mogo Bana’ is the opening track on a very good afro-electro-hip-hop compilation album called African GrooveWhat dear Issa Bagayogo is not often credited with is his amazing voice. Sometimes overshadowed by technical aptitude and compelling compositions, Bagayogo should also be recognised for contributing the “soulful vocals” as well as the “bluesy ngoni” to his music, as pointed to in the album’s pull-out. His voice is smooth and easy on the ear, and sits neatly on top of the chilled rhythms he has orchestrated below.

 

Issa Bagayogo – Saye Mogo Bana

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

AfroCubism – Benséma : Mali Song of the Week

Whatever the political and economic consequences of President Obama’s trip to Cuba this week, we’ve learnt a bit about him and the country he visited. We can also see that a whole lot hasn’t changed. Another thing that has evidentially remained unchanged – during that 20th Century “constant” of the Cold War conflict between the US and Cuba – is that the Caribbean nation remains enamoured, at every turn, with music. Scenes from a Major League Baseball exhibition game between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays held yesterday morning show jubilation in the crowds whenever the band started up – which appeared to be every other minute. Rapturous and genuine applause even bloomed at the final notes of the Star Spangled Banner. Ahead of the game President Obama penned a short article explaining the significance and purpose of the match:

“That’s what this visit is about: remembering what we share, reflecting upon the barriers we’ve broken.”

This is of course must be framed as a uniquely American reflection on Cuba. Other countries, particular those in Africa, have not endorsed the isolationist policies of the US and remember different struggles. On the contrary Cuba has a rich history of cooperation in Africa where they attacked barriers from the same side. Nelson Mandela famously thanked Castro and the Cuban people for the “selfless” support received for the anti-apartheid movement. In many ways its was the “critical” intervention in the gradual and successful defeat of apartheid. Apartheid itself means  “the state of being apart” when translated from Afrikaans. To be anti-apartheid is to show a willingness to come together. In this case it was for the advancement of the rights and liberties of people from the other side of the world.

It is a difficult truth for the US to digest, no less for Noble Peace Prize winner Obama. In an incredible exchange that just about everybody should watch, Mandela during his visit to the US in 1990 was challenged by Ken Adelman from the Institute of Contemporary Studies for his praise of the human rights advocacy of Gaddafi, Arafat and Castro. In his response, Mandela alludes to the comparatively lack of support the US government ever showed the ANC, which barely extended beyond rhetoric, in its fight for human rights in South Africa. With his ‘normalising’ speeches and actions in Cuba over the last few days Obama is trying to work his magic on a particularly prickly legacy of his predecessors; that all too often American diplomacy has failed to bring the world together. Utilising sport to correct this is not a new Cold War trick and indeed its going to take a whole lot of ballgames to convince some commentators that the US’s actions against Cuba ought to be laid to rest.

Sport and culture facilitates all sorts of diplomatic relations, though not always positive I hasten to add. This is no different in Mali. Its relations with South Africa for example have been nurtured through two recent projects: 1) the crucial assistance Mali received from South Africa when its ability to host the African Cup of Nations in 2002 looked in doubt and 2) the on-going South African-led Timbuktu manuscript restoration and preservation project. With Cuba, Mali shares its music. Historically, Mali had some Cold War ties with Cuba, but over the last century its music has bound its people together more closely – even if many of them may not have known it.

Sadly, in researching this article I couldn’t find direct evidence of Malian and Cuban official relations being nurtured though musical connections, though I’m sure I would eventually. In a visit to the country last year, it is reported that (the source is from the Cuban Communist Party) President of the National Assembly of Mali, Issaka Sidibé, “thanked Cuban authorities for their cooperation with his country in various spheres, including health, sport and education”. Advancing cultural exchange was high on the agenda also. The musical harmony between the two countries is captured in this week’s Song of The Week. It hints at that unquantifiable, allusive and often dismissed quality, the very existence of it and its transformative powers Obama is banking will take hold in Cuba. Like sport music has a common language. A set of rules recognised nearly everywhere. Toumani Diabate – who features in this week’s SOTW – explained how during the AfroCubism project the various musicians from Mali, Cuba and elsewhere:

“…cannot even speak together on stage…music has created its own language. It’s the music message, and I think the message is true to the audiences [and] to the world also at the same time.”

It provides hope that separated peoples – by the Straights of Florida or the Atlantic Ocean, by education or simply by the passage of time – can find common intrinsically human pursuits to strip away the polluting effects of titles, labels, ignorance and othering. In its place there is always a chance for peace, happiness and cooperation. But just a chance.

 

AfroCubism – Benséma

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Terakaft – Karambani : Mali Song of the Week

The word ‘caravane’, caravan, or ‘terakaft’ – the translation of the band’s name – has great meaning in Mali. Far from the British understanding (damp holidays in Devon) the word denotes motion, movement. Not a unnerving breeze-enduced axel-rocking but rather movement as in travelling purposefully or for transportation. A movement of people, goods, livelihoods but also ideas, knowledge, gossip and music. Roaming, but far from aimlessly. Always with direction.

Recently, a Cultural Caravan for Peace has began making its way around the festivals of Mali. Originally starting in 2013, the Caravan has cleverly and successfully captured the imagination of festival-goers and has therefore delivered on its goal “to promote dialogue, cultural exchange and social cohesion in areas of the Sahara and the Sahel”. The idea of using caravan as a concept in this way is catching on. The band Terakaft used proceeds of their most recent album Alone – from which ‘Karambani’ hails – to fund a ‘medical caravan’ the details of which have sadly disappeared into a timed-out website. Regardless, its the use of the concept which is interesting. Similarly the arrival of a caravan for “water, land and seeds” in Bamako last week caught the attention of the media. One disgruntled farmer explained their purpose: “we are walking for their attention“. Here we see the real significance of a caravan – it is something you can participate in and become a part of. It readily becomes a social and political process. Not always, but sometimes. It makes you an activist.

Music features heavily in caravan imagery. The bands producer Justin Adams explains how Diara, the founder of Terakaft, orinagated the distinctive electric guitar style that immediately conjures scenes of camels slinking stoically through dunes. Adams describes it as a “camel groove, the lope” dropping his shoulder in a sway as he says it.

Interestingly, Adams continues to explain their approach to creating the album by firstly acknowledging the differences between the band’s musical aura live and when recorded, but also noticing their increasing talents in the recording studio. Subsequently, Adams saw an opportunity to push the boat out a little further with Alone. In a modernisation of their approach they found a way of unearthing and unleashing traditonal “ancient rhythms”.

The album Alone therefore acts as a caravan itself: carrying a precious cargo of musical intricacies from another age through to the ears of the present day.

Terakaft – Karambani

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Vieux Farka Toure & Julia Easterlin – Little Things : Mali Song of the Week

This week Vieux Farka Toure links up with American singer-songwriter Julia Easterlin. A new one for me too, but she’s taking the US by storm already as the “one-woman acapella group” and the “one-woman chorus“. This new, industrious, loop-machining young woman met Farka Toure in New York in 2014. Vieux Farka Toure has quite a knack for these spontaneous meetings – the story of this album’s creation sounding quite similar to that magical one with Idan Rachel, the Israeli pianist. As with Rachel, it wasn’t long before the pair knew they had something exciting brewing;  “within about one or two hours we had created four songs together” he explains.

It is astonishing how easily it appears that such delights can come together. Again, Six Degrees Records comes up with some fantastic stories of how another of their releases came to be:

“Julia Easterlin’s melody and lyrics are new, but they are built upon a classic West African song, “Kaira.” Both Vieux and his late father, the legendary blues guitarist Ali Farka Touré, have recorded “Kaira” before; this time, Vieux explains, “I played it in a bit of a new way on guitar, in my own style, and Julia began to improvise on top.””

Toure must have something special about him to enable him to mold and meld his way into all sorts of different musical environments. It must be another manifestation of the theory that historic west African music forms part of the base for contemporary music around the world. The album Touristes from which this week’s song hails from is certainly a music person’ s album. There are all sorts of musical homages, easily exposed influences and plenty of creative “re-imaginings” – as Easterlin would describe them – even before you get to the three ‘startling‘ covers. ‘Little Things’ is a quasi-original; a rework of a West African classic into a modern, yet naturally pleasing, song.

Vieux Farka Toure & Julia Easterlin – Little Things

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal – Passa Quatro

This song comes from the very long awaited second album from cello-kora duo Sissoko and Segal; Musique de Nuit. It does not disappoint as it more than matches the precision and delicacy of their first album Chamber MusicIf you’re in Bristol and are pondering what to do tonight then you could to worse that pop along to St Georges Church Concert Hall to see these two sensational musicians live. A suitably elegant venue for each achingly beautiful chord.

I will save my words for another time – a comprehensive review, forensic in detail, of the whole album has already been published on the Six Degrees Records website and is certainly worth a read. It is fascinating to read of the influences and elements captured in Musique de Nuit and it is pleasing to see Sissoko and Segal avoid the ‘2nd album syndrome’ trap by choosing not to make a futile attempt to recapture the magic of the 1st. Its clear that they are moving things forward.

Whilst you listen, I would recommend watching the gentle, simple video to this song. Take the time out of your day to enjoy the float down stream.

Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal – Passa Quatro

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.