Tag Archives: Collaboration

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Arnaldo Antunes, Edgard Scandurra & Toumani Diabaté – Kaira

Celebrating the collaborations between Malian artists and those around the world is a popular topic here on the Hub. Much has been made of the link between Malian music and that of American blues. Looking into this relationship reveals a dark explanation rooted in the murderous, mass upheaval of millions – entire African tribes and societies – through the slave trade of the European colonial era. Similarly, links with Caribbean nations, Cuba in particular, have been noted through AfroCubism and the 1970s experimentations of the Rail Band.

One continent remains relatively unexplored in this regard by the Hub. In the 315 years between 1500 and 1815 the Portuguese Empire transported 3 million Africans (over half perishing in transit or shortly after) to their Brazilian colony in South America. Inspecting the musical consequences – possibly the least dreadful and most joyous of all the consequences – of this devastating period of human history is long overdue. Enter singer and poet Arnaldo Antunes and rock guitarist Edgard Scandurra; two Brazilians who one day got the invite by Toumani to do a concert with him. This marvellous article by Dave Stelfox charts this coming together:

“The rehearsal was the very first time we had ever met” explains Arnaldo “but when we started to play together [there was] a magical synergy between us. At the end, Toumani said: ‘We need to make a record together – you need to come to Mali.’ Edgar and I already had a plan to work together anyway, so we thought, ‘Why not … we can just include Toumani in that project, too.’ Soon after we made that decision we were all in Bamako making the album.”

A story we’ve heard countless times before – Malian musicians would probably make the best diplomats in the world. They have a phenomenal track-record for seamless integration into other cultures through projects, ‘supergroups’, albums, recordings, live performances, improvisations and the rest. Stelfox presses on for an explanation for all this and finds that Brazil also has a wonderful philosophy, borne out of strife and necessity of its history, that has set its musical culture in a similar position to that of Mali. Brazilian music is wholly comfortable, if not at its best, when it is in the process of absorbing, exploring and championing another. Stelfox points to the works of Brazil’s great poet Oswald de Andrade who in 1928:

“…wrote a short text asserting that Brazil’s greatest weapon in the battle against post-colonial European dominance was antropofagia, its ability to “cannibalise” diverse influences into “one participating consciousness”.”

Remarkable words and a beautiful sentiment. And its true. It is a reflection of the indomitable pride shown in all of history’s great resistance movements and its must be a proud tradition for Antunes and Scandurra to uphold. This brings us neatly onto this week’s Song. This is the most ‘Malian’ feeling track of the project; a Portuguese lyric-d, “radically altered“, re-work of a Diabaté song by the same name. It’s delightful, “charming” and exhibits some splendid balafon work, as well as mixed Brazilian-Malian vocals – the soaring, wailing voice of Safiatou Diabaté (the wife of Toumani’s younger brother Mamadou) combining with the husky, singer-songwriter sounds of Arnaldo Antunes.

 

 

Arnaldo Antunes, Edgard Scandurra & Toumani Diabaté – Kaira

 

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.

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Ballaké Sissoko & Ludovico Einaudi – Soutoukou

Ballaké Sissoko has a knack for getting into excellent collaborations. He must just be a really nice guy. The superb composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi and Sissoko apparently refer to each other as friends with the music they create together seen as a gift from one to the other. This week’s track of the week – taken from their collaborative album Diario Mali – certainly feels this way. Not only do the kora and the piano exchange beautifully throughout the song and the album but the recording itself captures the affection felt between the two musicians. Every now and then an audible “yeaaah” can be heard as the pair build something very special.

Malian musicians have a superb record for integration, adaptation and collaboration. Vieux Farka Touré collaborated with classical instruments on the album The Touré-Rachel Collective. There, Touré used an acoustic guitar – an instrument fairly familiar with pianos and other classical instruments. The amazing thing Touré does, like his father before him, is play, or at least adapt, ngoni songs on the guitar. What Sissoko does here is use a traditional West-African instrument and integrate it straight into very dominate classical sounds. Einaudi’s piano doesn’t seem to have met the kora half-way at all, and it does not need to. Such is Sissoko’s mastery of the kora he effortlessly plays with the piano. He makes it sound like the kora belonged there all along, as if you’d heard these instruments play together a hundred times before…

…but perhaps never this well.

 

Ballaké Sissoko & Ludovico Einaudi – Soutoukou

 ***

Upcoming Events

The Mali Development Group will be fundraising at Stadhampton Christmas Market in south Oxfordshire on Friday the 5th of December. For further information and directions please click here.

The University of Cambridge is currently hosting a exhibition containing the work of Tim Oelman – an artist who uses hand woven tapestry and mud cloth (bogolan) to explore sign and symbol, drawing on a diversity of sources, including pre-classical European roots and modern African cultures. His guided tour will refer to the cultural identities seen in Moroccan Berber rug making and Malian bogolan. Runs till December 5th.

***

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

To get in touch with Sam for further information please email him directly at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We look forward to hearing from you.

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

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

The Touré-Raichel Collective – Bamba

This week’s song comes from a unscripted, collaborative album comprised of Vieux Farka Touré and Israeli piano ‘superstar’ Idan Raichel, with mutual friend Yossi Fine on bass and Touré’s calabash player Souleymane Kane. Its an exceptional album for so many reasons. Firstly, Touré and Raichel met by chance in an airport in Germany in 2008. Raichel idolised Vieux’s father, Ali, and he was desperately excited to get something going between the pair. After a performance alongside him in Cartagena, Spain, Vieux developed strong respect for the Raichel’s global outlook and musical brilliance. Later, Vieux accepted Raichel’s invitation to be the first concert of his world music curatorship at the Tel Aviv Opera House. The day after this marvellous concert, where all four of the above musicians featured, Raichel and Touré headed to a friend’s recording studio and within a few hours had created the album The Tel Aviv Sessions.

Eric Herman, Vieux’s manager, was in the studio: “I was thinking to myself, ‘Alright, this is fun, a really nice little jam.’ Soon there were two of three tracks and I started to think ‘Hmm, maybe there will be something here we could use…’ After bout five or six amazing songs were laid down I said, ‘Wait a minute, we have a full album here!”

Eric explains that there were no expectations. It was really just a selection of musicians doing a jam, which during everyone involved, especially the musicians, soon realised was turning into something very special. “It was really the most fluid and pleasant recording experience…what struck me was the nakedness of it…this was entirely freeform – an open exchange.”

The album in total is an excellent, and perhaps only, example of Vieux Farka Touré’s acoustic talents. Other musicians that were stumped at the work that had been created were merged into some tracks at the stage where Idan was editing and smoothing out what had been made. For example, the Persian tar instrument on the track ‘Kfar’ was played by Yankele Segal. ‘Bamba’ – this week’s song – is the best example, in my opinion, of the fusing of piano and acoustic guitar from the album. Raichel provides one explaination for why the music weaves together so beautifully:

“The way that I play piano during the session comes from the kora…sometimes I’m using the strings of the piano, plucking them with my fingers like a harp, other times I’m beating the piano as if it was a drum. I use the piano as a whole instrument.”

All in all, the song is an incredible testament to the versatility of world music and the intelligence of its greatest exponents.It is amazing to think that ‘Bamba’ with so much beauty was created in a fragment of an afternoon. This song is also special as it featured as part of the music at my wedding, which was last Thursday. So forever it will have an exceptional meaning and have the ability to transport me to a very, very happy place.

The Touré-Raichel Collective – Bamba