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Dee Dee Bridgewater: Red Earth, A Malian Journey (Universal)

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Red Earth, A Malian Journey (Universal)

Just last week I was saying to a friend that Mali was starting to feel like the new Jamaica. Consider the number of artists whose names are becoming familiar: the late Ali Farka Toure and now his gifted son Vieux Farka Toure; Toumani Diabate, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare . . . And now there is the wave of sub-Sahara blues bands like Etran...

The Rail Band: Soundiata (Southbound)

The Rail Band: Soundiata (Southbound)

The Rail Band is one of the cornerstone groups out of Mali and launched the careers of Mory Kante and Salif Keita. I first heard them maybe 20 years ago when a salty old journo read something I had written about some African band and guessed my interest. He'd lived somewhere in the region and had old vinyl which he transferred to tape for me,...

IMAGINING AFRICA IN THE SIXTIES: The Soul of Africa album considered

IMAGINING AFRICA IN THE SIXTIES: The Soul of Africa album considered

Funny how “African music” has been perceived, adapted and mis-represented down the decades, innit? That’s not to say Bengt Berger and the other musicians from Stockholm who recorded Bitter Funeral Beer for ECM in the early 80s didn’t come up with something interesting when they used the voices and rhythms of Ghanaian...

ETRAN FINATAWA INTERVIEWED (2006): From sands to stadiums

ETRAN FINATAWA INTERVIEWED (2006): From sands to stadiums

Etran Finatawa have band members from two nomadic groups from around Niger, and play music which sounds like the raw electric blues from Chicago in the Fifties and Sixties. Their electrifying music is tough, but full of yearning. It may have a hypnotic quality which conjures up the open spaces of their region, but it also rocks mightily....

POTTED PROFILE: Salif Keita

POTTED PROFILE: Salif Keita

The man often referred to as "the Golden Voice of Africa" (and that doesn't mean he's that continent's John Farnham) has had quite an extraordinary career. He was born in Mali and was a direct descendant of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the nation. Which meant that as one of royal lineage he was well above being a griot (a court...

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