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Festival preview: Songhoy Blues

30 Jun 2015

Songhoy Blues were born out of conflict and exile. As they head back to these shores, we sing the pr

Returning to Scotland after two triumphant shows at January’s Celtic Connections, Mali’s Songhoy Blues head up the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival’s new talent Firsts strand. Their energetic take on the desert blues of the great Ali Farka Touré has…


25 May 20154 stars

Heartbreaking and topical African drama from director Abderrahmane Sissako

There could hardly be a more relevant film than the Oscar-nominated Timbuktu. Inspired by events in northern Mali in 2012, it follows the imposition of a brutal jihad in which traditions are ignored, communities are torn apart and individuals pay a…

Lobi Traoré - Bamako Nights: Live at Bar Bozo 1995

14 Mar 20144 stars

Live recording of late Malian guitarist on electrifying psychedelic form

Rawer than any of his studio albums, this newly uncovered live recording from 1995 captures the late Malian guitarist Lobi Traoré on electrifying form as he sets a hot Bamako basement club on fire. There's a palpable sense of joy as Traoré and his band…

Super Onze - Gao

16 Jan 20144 stars

Malian group deliver ecstatic desert music at its best

Saharan desert blues begins here. Formed in the early 80s, Super Onze are the masters of Takamba, a style originating in the Songhai region of Mali that combines the ngoni (West African lute) with heavy calabash percussion and passionate vocals. This is…

Donso - Denfila

25 Aug 20133 stars

Sound-and culture clash of 11 electronic and traditional musicians from France and Mali

From Salif Keita and Ali Farka Touré to Amadou & Mariam and Tinariwen, Mali boasts an incredibly rich musical culture, one seemingly endangered by the political upheaval of the last 18 months. This Afro–European project is proof that Mali’s beat goes…

Various - Songs for the North Country

18 Dec 20124 stars

Acoustic sounds and atmospheric field recordings benefits Mali musicians

(Sahel Sounds) Earlier this year, the north of Mali was taken over by armed fundamentalists who imposed an extreme form of Sharia law that bans music. Proceeds from this download-only compilation go straight to the musicians, all directly affected…

Africa Express assembles African and UK musical talent for world tour

22 Aug 2012

Damon Albarn-helmed project features Tony Allen, Carl Barat and more

Continuing Damon Albarn’s love affair with the music of the continent, the forthcoming Africa Express tour is surely the most high-profile collaboration ever attempted between the musicians of Africa and of the UK. Yet it has its roots with that other…

5 Reasons to Go See. . . Khaira Arby

25 Apr 2011

She’s Mali’s biggest star Arby is known in Mali as ‘The Nightingale of the North’, and her music reflects the cultural diversity of the Sahara region. ‘Timbuktu is a multicultural city and has been for many hundreds of years. I sing in several…

Boubacar Traoré: Mali Denhou

24 Mar 20114 stars

Malian musician still holds the power that raises him above many other 'Saharan sound' artists

(Lusafrica) Back in 1990, Malian singer and guitarist Boubacar Traoré recorded Mariama, a debut that captured the bittersweet yearnings of love. Most who heard it became instant fans and those who saw him play in a tiny club in Newcastle (the closest…

AfroCubism latest project from makers of Buena Vista Social Club

19 Nov 2010

Musicians from Mali and Cuba record album and play live dates

AfroCubism was for several years one of world music’s great what-ifs? In 1996, Nick Gold of World Circuit Records invited the Malian musicians Djelimady Tounkara and Bassekou Kouyate to Havana to record with the cowboy-hatted Cuban singer and guitarist…

Tamikrest - Adagh

2 Mar 20104 stars

(Glitterhouse) Tinariwen first brought us the Tamashek music of the Toureg people of the Saharan desert. They blew everyone away, even the Rolling Stones, who a year or so later invited them to open their gig. Tamikrest are the next generation, and…

Keletigui et ses Tambourinis: The Syliphone Years

9 Jul 20094 stars

Look no further: the sultry, sensual dance sounds the summer demands can be found right here. Sterns are riding high on the back of their recent digital remastering of Mali’s Rail Band (Salif Keita, Mory Kante) and TPOK Jazz, and now give the same…


7 May 20074 stars

Written and directed by Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako (Waiting for Happiness, Life on Earth), Bamako provides a refreshing African variation on the conventional political drama. Set in the backyard of a house in the Malian city of Bamako…