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2007 - week 37, from 15 Sept - The Magnificent Music of Mali

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 10:31 am
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Sali Sidibe - Yacouba Sylla - From Timbuktu to Gao - Mali - Shanachie - 65011

2 - Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba - Andra's Song - Segu Blue - Mali - Out Here - OH 007

3 - Vieux Farka Toure - Courage [feat Issa Bamba] - Vieux Farka Toure - Mali - World Village - 468065

4 - Issa Bagayogo - Gnangran - Sya - Mali - Cobalt - 09292-2

5 - Salif Keita - Bobo - Le Mandingue: Empire de la Musique - Mali - Marabi - 46821-2

6 - Toumani Diabate - Jarabi - Kaira - Mali - Hannibal - HNCD 1338


Once you get a taste for the music of Mali, it doesn’t let you go. No matter how far my sonic travels take me, to the rest of Africa and the rest of the world, Mali keeps pulling me back.

The French label Marabi has just released a compilation of 16 tracks by contemporary artists from Mali and its neighbour Guinea (all except Ali Farka Touré still alive and performing) and I could have done an easy and very good programme by simply letting the album run and speaking in the gaps. But I like to make my life more difficult than that, and found three additional artists not included on the compilation, while mainly playing alternative songs by those who are on it.

Sali Sidibe

Sali Sidibe was one of several Wassalou singers who surfaced during the mid-1980s, when she and her group featured in a memorable BBC Radio 2 documentary directed by Mark Kidell. I expected her to become a major figure but when Oumou Sangare emerged, Sali slipped back into the shadows. The marvellous ‘Yacouba Sylla’ is the only track on From Timbuktu to Gao not ruined by western keyboards. You’ve been warned.

Bassekou Kouyate outside Bush House, home of the BBC World Service

The live session recorded for the World Service by Bassekou Kouyate and his group inspired more comments from listeners than any other show I’ve done during the past year, mostly asking if there was an album. Indeed there is, one of the best this year.

Vieux Farka Toure

Although he has been to the UK more than once during 2007, I still have not caught Vieux Farka Toure and his group playing live, while hearing wildly conflicting accounts. Some say he’s great, others couldn’t abide the rock guitar and lumpen drums. My inclinations are to suspect that the album is an ingenious and effective presentation of a good but not yet great musician who is still finding his own way.

Issa Bagayogo

Issa Bagayogo isn’t on the Marabi album, perhaps because the modern production didn’t seem to fit alongside the more traditional accompaniment on the other tracks. But he records in Bamako and his sound is an important piece in the patchwork of Malian music.

Salif Keita

Taken from his most recent album, Salif Keita’s Bobo is on the Marabi album, where it sounds magnificent.


Having had two albums released by World Circuit in the past two years, one with Ali Farka Toure, the other with his Symmetric Orchestra, Toumani Diabaté has completed a trilogy with a solo album to be released early next year. While we wait for that, here’s a tune from his 1987 debut, Kaira, co-produced by Joe Boyd and Lucy Duran when Toumani was 21, which remains my favourite of all his recordings so far.


PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 2:40 pm
by Charlie
emails from:

1. Barbara Matovu, Kampala, Uganda

I would love to have a collection of African music but each time i get into a music store, there's hardly any!

Could the BBC create a special day and hour for African music ?

Otherwise, all African music ROCKS: Charlie, you rock!

I'm proud to be African


2. Yetunde Ajayi, Lagos, Nigeria

Charlie great taste in music I look forward to your selection every weekend but what about the rest of Africa! I seem to hear only music from mali. Well, ok, that not true.

But you are rather fond of music from that part of the continent. The rest of the continent awaits, its a vast place you know.

Thanks for feeding my rather eclectic taste in music.


CG's reply to Yetunde:

I did start out by playing music from Ghana, Nigeria, Zaire (as it was) and South Africa, before discovering the wonders of West Africa.

Most of those other countries have surrendered to rap, reggae and gospel, and don't have such pride in their own rhythms, melodies and themes. I do try to find contemporary music from the rest of African that doesn't fall into those cliches..


PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 2:50 pm
by Dayna
I have this song, Bobo, by Salif Keita that came with the music that Gordon Moore sent me. I think it is very beautiful.

This song by Diabate is beautiful, too.

PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:32 pm
by Des
The Sali Sidibe was the only track unfamiliar to me and it is a shame the rest of the CD is so 'disposable' according to Charlie - her voice reminded me a little of Nahawa Doumbia - I just love that Wassoulou sound.

I think Charlie said Bobo was on Moffou, but it is on M'Bemba.