AfroCubism a magical night of musical exchange that hints at future greatness (4 stars)

AfroCubism a magical night of musical exchange that hints at future greatness

Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Thu 2 Dec 2010

All power to the Usher Hall as chosen venue for one of only two UK gigs played by supergroup AfroCubism. True, the snow meant rerouting them via Glasgow, yet that only fired up what Eliades Ochoa, Cuba’s ‘king of country music’ called the night’s ‘calor humano’ (human warmth).

There was plenty heat on display with dancing in the aisles as they kicked off with ‘Mali Cuba’, evoking their historic links from the legacy of the slave trade to the post-independence 1960s when Cuban music was hugely influential in Mali. Sadly composer Toumani Diabaté was stuck in Paris and unable to appear, yet miraculously Bassekou Kouyate as ‘man of the gig’ played Toumani’s kora harp parts on his small n’goni against melodies from Ochoa’s guitar over the rootsy timbres of Lassame Diabaté’s balafon xylophone. With glorious singing from Kasse Mady Diabaté – majestic in golden robes – and riveting solos from guitar giant Djelimady Tounkara, this was a magical night of musical exchange. While they’ve not had enough outings yet to fully light the blue touch paper, Ochoa’s superb Grupo Patria’s cheeky trumpeters are showing the way.



  • 4 stars

The Buena Vista Social Club was meant to be a very different album: in 1996 a group of musicians from Mali were due to fly to Havana and collaborate with some of Cuba's finest. The Malians never made it, but the sessions became a multi-million-selling album anyway. Now the original Afro-Cuban line-up has been brought back…

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