Acoustic Africa II: Mali meets Zimbabwe

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Wednesday March 09, 2011

From Afropop Worldwide

Acoustic Africa II: Mali meets Zimbabwe
Banning Eyre

The second edition of Acoustic Africa is now rolling across North America. The series presents three African artists on the same stage, each with just a few support musicians, and collaborating interactively on each others’ repertoires. This edition features Habib Koite and Afel Bocoum of Mali, and Oliver Mtukudzi of Zimbabwe. I caught up with them at the Somerville Theater in Boston on February 27, and found a beautiful and fascinating exchange going on between great artists from two of my favorite musical countries. Interviews and music from this tour will be featured on an upcoming edition of Afropop Worldwide, “21st Century Troubadours.”

Afel is a champion of northern Mali’s Sonrai and other regional traditions. He was long part of Ali Farka Toure’s ensemble, and has led his own exquisite group for many years now. All three of these artists make expert use of their counties’ indigenous music styles, but Afel is the most authentically “traditional” musician among them. He appears here with Mamadou Kelly on guitar and vocals and Yoro Cisse on the one-string lute (monochord or njurkel) and one-string violin (njarka). Afel has never brought his full ensemble to the US, so this is a first chance for Americans to experience the particularly deep spell this music can cast when played live by musicians of this caliber.

Read the entire review here