We’re now only a few days away from the start of this year’s Songlines Encounters Festival. The event takes place between June 5-8 at Kings Place in London. You can expect an array of musical a marriages over the four days, including a range of Eastern European flavours, guitarist John Williams with the Palestinian Duo Sabil; West African, Cuban and Bangladeshi jazz, plus performances from some of our favourite emerging and established artists.
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Transkaukazja: Volosi & 33a / HOPA!: Paprika, She’Koyokh and Yurodny
The Leading Polish folk group Volosi meets Georgia’s 33a, led by the charismatic Niaz Diasamidze, recently seen in Songlines [#89] for his work with Lo’Jo. The two bands first played together in Tbilisi in 2011 and are now taking this Transcaucasian meeting on a European tour. HOPA! (pictured left) is a Balkan-flavoured triple bill. Three outstanding groups collaborate on this special Songlines Encounters event. Paprika, She’Koyokh and Yurodny are all specialists in various Balkan styles, giving this evening a fiery, yet seductive, flavour. Each group will play their own set and come together in an extravagant collaboration of over 20 musicians at the end.
Baladi Blues Ensemble / Sarah Savoy and the Francadians
Tonight we let the good times roll – in Cairo and Louisiana. Led by dynamic percussionist Guy Schalom, the Baladi Blues Ensemble features two veteran Egyptian musicians – Sheik Taha on quarter-tone accordion and Ahmed El Saidi on saxophone. Their gorgeous baladi music comes from the countryside – baladi means ‘rural’ or ‘local’ – but it became the traditional soundtrack of urban Cairo as people flocked to the city to work. Singer and guitarist Sarah Savoy (pictured left) comes from one of the great families of Cajun music who’ve been letting the good times roll in Louisiana for years. With her French band the Francadians, she performs repertoire from the early roots of Cajun and Zydeco music, the honky-tonk inspired Cajun songs of the 40s and 50s and her own original songs of today
Malick Pathé Sow and Bao Sissoko / Duo Sabil with John Williams
Tonight we showcase plucked strings – from West Africa and the Middle East. Malick Pathé Sow and Bao Sissoko (pictured left), from Senegal, are true masters of Senegalese traditional music. Their Aduna album was one of the African music highlights of last year. Vocalist Sow started out in Baaba Maal’s band and plays the hoddu (desert lute), while Bao Sissoko is a virtuoso on the most sublime of West African instruments, the 21-string kora. Palestinian musicians, Ahmad Al Khatib and Youssef Hbeisch on oud (Arabic lute) and percussion are the spectacular Duo Sabil, two of the best musicians playing Arabic music today. John Williams is, of course, one of Britain’s best-loved classical guitarists. He’s always been interested in a wider repertoire and collaborated frequently with the Chilean band Inti Illimani and with fellow guitarist John Etheridge playing African music and jazz.
Lokkhi Terra / Alex Wilson’s Trio Mali Latino with Omar Puente
Tonight West Africa meets Cuba and Bangladesh. Lokkhi Terra are one of London’s best-kept secrets and probably the world’s best Afrobeat-Cuban-Bangladeshi group. The key figure behind it all is Kishon Khan. From a Bangladeshi background, he became fascinated with Cuban music and visited Cuba often to acquire his Latin piano skills. By pulling in players from London’s diverse musical tapestry, Khan has assembled a band with Bangladeshi vocalists, Cuban percussion, an Afrobeat drummer and a lot more besides. Another fine Latin jazz pianist, the British-born Alex Wilson, is behind the Trio Mali Latino (guitarist Ahmed Fofana pictured left). This is the debut performance of the touring group drawn from his Mali Latino album, one of the stand-out records of 2010, which takes jazz and Latin rhythms back to their African roots while still sounding dynamic and modern. The grand finale to Songlines Encounters with three musicians and a multitude of instruments, plus special guest Omar Puente, from Cuba, on violin