Fonseca and Diawara spark the Barbican!

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Monday June 01, 2015

From The Arts Desk
By Thomas Rees

*Fatoumata Diawara and Roberto Fonseca, Barbican
The musical traditions of Cuba and Mali leave a capacity crowd in raptures*

Though they may be separated by thousands of miles, Cuba and Mali share a common musical connection. Right at the heart of Cuban music lie rhythms from sub-saharan African and last night the two traditions were united once again when Havana-born piano virtuoso Roberto Fonseca (of Buena Vista Social Club fame) took the stage with Fatoumata Diawara, a Malian singer and guitarist who is fast becoming a giant of the world music scene.
The pair first met when Fonseca invited Diawara to feature on his 2012 release Yo, in which he explored his own African roots. Since then they seem to have been inseparable, touring extensively, shaking up Womad festival and appearing at Jazz in Marciac, where their debut, At Home, was recorded.
It’s a strong release but, as last night’s set proved, it’s nothing on seeing them live. Theirs was a set full of passion and charisma, a blend of fibrous Malian melodies and intoxicating Afro-Cuban grooves in which astonishing feats of musicianship were commonplace.