African Soul Rebels
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Sun 18 Feb
Last year this nationwide future-African showcase counted crossover sensation Amadou and Miriam among its triumphs and, now in its third year, the African Soul Rebels tour ups the ante with pre-eminent Afrobeat figurehead Femi Kuti steering the ship alongside contemporary Guinean and North African talent Ba Cissoko and Akli D. Nigerian Kuti needs little introduction as son of legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and one-time frontman for his father’s Egypt 80 outfit before going on to lead his own Positive Force. The saxophonist brings a 21st century Lagos of R&B and electronica to the rhythm-heavy jazz-funk form to bear here, and while his politics may not make the headlines to the extent they used to, his music and message are no less potent.
It’s kept in the family again for Ba Cissoko who hails from a strict Guinean lineage of exemplary singers and players. Two of his cousins help to make up the band, a dual-kora ensemble, the ensuing mix turning out a kind of post-modern, effects-heavy fusion where the ancients are coaxed into the company of the cutting edge. Finally, Akli D’s latest album brings his Berber roots together with blues, reggae and Senegalese pop music under the watchful eye of none other than Manu Chao, who uncovered the Algeria-born singer-songwriter while touring in Paris. It all adds up to a rare and celebratory glimpse of Africa’s fierce cauldron of talent and inspiration, tradition and technology.