Posts Tagged ‘malick pathe sow’

The 50 Greatest World Music Albums of the Last Five Years (Part 3)

Posted on August 23rd, 2015 in Features, Recent posts by .

Editor Jo Frost and editor-in-chief Simon Broughton choose their favourite albums from 2012…


Duncan Chisholm


(Copperfish Records)

It’s a rather special album that manages to stop you in your tracks and make you just sit and listen, especially when it’s played in the noisy environs that is Songlines HQ. But that’s what the opening track ‘An Ribhinn Donn’ of Scottish fiddler Duncan Chisholm’s latest release managed to do. The final part of his Strathglass Trilogy, it certainly lives up to the two previous offerings (Farrar & Canaich). Chisholm’s violin is intensely deep and rich, evoking misty glens and the rolling Highlands. He’s probably best known for being in Julie Fowlis’ band and Wolfstone, but on evidence of this, Chisholm will go far as a solo player. JF 



Caroline Herring


(Signature Sounds)

The Southern American folk singer was part of 2011’s Cecil Sharp Project which is where I first came across her. Listening to Camilla is akin to having a sociohistorical lesson about the American South – songs such as ‘Black Mountain Lullaby’ about the tragic death of a child caused by mountaintop removal, or ‘White Dress,’ about an African-American civil rights activist who rode on the segregated buses during the 60s. The one thing missing from this beautifully illustrated album (by English artist Alice Pattullo) is notes explaining the tales behind these songs, but you can read these online. Alternatively go and see Herring perform live and prepare to be captivated by her compelling performance. JF 




Cinéma el mundo

(World Village)

Incredible to think this collective of musicians, based in the south-west of France, have been going for 30 years and yet their latest release – their tenth – sounds as fresh and intriguing as ever. Every Lo’Jo album offers up an enticing assortment of musical influences and styles and this is no exception. It starts off with the gruff spoken words of Robert Wyatt and continues with the familiar vocals of the El Mourid sisters and the ever-present, deeply enigmatic poetry and singing of Denis Péan. This release will delight die-hard fans and newcomers alike. JF 





Rising Tide


The music of Zimbabwe tends to get overshadowed by the powerhouse that is West Africa and so the arrival of this debut release was much anticipated. Mokoomba are a young band from Victoria Falls, who won a Southern African music contest back in 2008. The album is an impressively polished affair, thanks in part to Manou Gallo from Zap Mama who produced it, but also due to the joyful, energetic playing by the band. But the most striking feature is lead singer Mathias Muzaza whose voice has a potency and rawness that defies his outwardly shy demeanour. After their recent hit live dates in the UK, plus a much coveted spot on BBC’s Later… with Jools Holland, the band look set for a bright future. JF 






Seeing the panpipes, log drums and massive bamboo thong-ophone on stage at WOMAD and hearing the storm of sound was a thrilling endorsement of Songlines’ championing this group. We get few chances to hear music from the Solomon Islands, so it’s great to find a band like Narasirato devoted to their local traditions, but able to impress at festivals like WOMAD and Glastonbury and make a compelling album like this. With lead singer Aloysius Mauhana and his formidable array of musicians behind him, the music is sometimes haunting, sometimes punchy, full of an ethereal breathiness and an earthy energy that has a distinctive island feel. Aside from the exuberance, there’s also a strong message about safeguarding the culture and natural environment. SB 



Punch Brothers

Who’s Feeling Young Now?


String groups don’t get much more exciting or dynamic than this. Individually, they’re all virtuoso musicians with their own successful solo careers (Chris Thile on vocals and mandolin, Gabe Witcher on violin, Noam Pikelny on banjo, Chris Eldridge on guitar and Paul Kowert on double bass), but collectively they sure pack a punch. From the frenzied, rock-like opening of ‘Movement and Location’ to the joyous instrumental cover of ‘Flippen’ by the Swedish band Väsen and their take on Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’, the playing by these young bluegrass experimentalist hotshots is superb. They’re setting a new benchmark when it comes to their live shows which are consistently thrilling and intense. JF 



Malick Pathé Sow & Bao Sissoko



These days, when the predominant trend is to mix everything together into a sort of soup, or what Lucy Durán calls KWOMUBA! (Komposite World Music Band Afrika), it’s refreshing to hear two master musicians exploring their own rich musical culture. Both from Senegalese griot families, Malick Pathé Sow and Bao Sissoko, now resident in Belgium, have produced a sublime album of acoustic roots music. Sow is the vocalist and plays guitar and hoddu (lute), the Senegalese version of the ngoni, while Sissoko plays kora. The contrasting textures of the dark, leathery hoddu and light silvery kora weave a magical spell, along with female vocalist Talike Gelle. This is a gem of traditional West African musicianship. SB 




Staff Benda Bilili

Bouger Le Monde!

(Crammed Discs)

The first disc by Kinshasa’s Staff Benda Bilili was a spectacular success, but was it partly down to their story – a band of largely disabled street musicians gaining worldwide recognition? The triumph over adversity back-story can hopefully be discounted for their second album and we can really listen to and enjoy the music. The splendid opener ‘Osali Mabe’ is danceable Congolese music at its best with fluid guitar playing and fabulous Congolese drumming from Montana – a new member of the band. The fact that it was recorded in the old Kinshasa Renapec studio gives it a warm bloom and endorses the amazing work that producer Vincent Kenis has done both for this band and Congolese music over the years. SB 



The Other Europeans


(Ethnomusic Records)

The Other Europeans bring together Jewish and Gypsy music and get their name from the fact that both groups have been marginalised – or worse – by the nations of Europe. But they also explore the way klezmer and Roma lautari musicians worked together in Bessarabia (now Moldova) before WWII. The project is led by American pianist and accordionist Alan Bern and includes Christian Dawid (clarinet), Matt Darriau (winds), Martin Bunea (violin), Petar Ralchev (accordion), Kalman Balogh (cimbalom) and Guy Schalom (drums). This live album features largely unknown repertoire, unlike so many klezmer discs which recycle the same tunes (read Bern’s fascinating notes online: Every time I listen to this, I’m impressed by the music and the exceptional instrumental playing. SB 



Various Artists

Songs For Desert Refugees

(Glitterhouse Records)

It’s been a tragic year for Mali – the coup in March, the MNLA annexation of Azawad in the north and the takeover by Islamists. Sharia law has been imposed, music banned and over 500,000 people have fled to refugee camps. This CD is in support of those desert refugees. But this is a lot more than a fund-raising compilation, it’s a brilliant collection of largely Touareg desert blues. It opens with an unreleased track by the Touareg rockers Tinariwen, made for their 2007 album Aman Iman. With its powerful oscillating bass, jangling guitars and soulful vocals, I have no idea why it went unreleased. But then there’s lots more by artists known and unknown, including Tamikrest, Terakaft, Tartit and guitarist Bombino. A superb collection to assist those suffering in the region and remind us of what’s at stake. SB

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Songlines Encounters Festival 2013 – Part 2

Posted on June 10th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

Words by Simon Broughton (Editor-in-Chief, Songlines)

Day 3 (Friday, June 7) The idea of Songlines Encounters is to present artists from around the world that we think deserve wider exposure. The sold-out concert on Day 3 featured artists who’d had Top of the World albums in 2012. One of my picks of the year was Aduna by Malick Pathé Sow & Bao Sissoko, from Senegal. Sow sings and plays hoddu (an instrument similar to the ngoni lute) and guitar, while Sissoko is a terrific kora player. The musicians had an elegance, sophistication and warmth on stage and their music, with female vocalist Talike Gellé and Cheik Mbacké Gueye on calabash percussion was full of subtle textures. A class act that returns for the London African Music Festival in September.

Another standout album from last year was that of Palestinian oud and percussion duo Ahmad Al Khatib & Youssef Hbeisch, also known as Duo Sabil. Khatib is one of the best oud players I’ve heard, getting a fantastic range of colours from his instrument, while Hbeisch entices a universe of sounds from his kit, somehow making a big frame drum sound like a wailing wind instrument. Thrillingly, they were joined in this Encounters performance by classical guitarist John Williams, who began with a solo set of Spanish classics by Albéniz and Tárrega, colourfully evoking Moorish Spain. In Tárrega’s ‘Recuerdos de la Alhambra’, Williams’ tremolo guitar sang out in an extraordinary lyrical legato. With this Andalusian atmosphere, the connections between the classical guitar and the oud could not have been made more clearly.

Before they began their collaboration, Hbeisch enthused: “You cannot imagine how thrilled we are to be on stage here with John Williams!” But it was clearly a relationship of mutual respect and Williams told me how equally impressed he was by their music – which he discovered through Songlines. In their final piece there was a gorgeous oud solo, though I do wish John Williams had been given his moment to shine as well.

Malick Pathé Sow & Bao Sissoko
©Haydn Wheeler

Day 4 (Saturday, June 8) featured two contrasting bands, but both with Latin piano at their heart. Audience member Sarah, a welcome regular at these events, was dancing enthusiastically from the beginning down the front. First on were Lokkhi Terra, led by Bangladeshi-born Kishon Khan on the ivories sporting a Che Guevara beret, adding to the Cuban vibe. Their exuberant big-band, with Cuban, Bangladeshi, British and Indian musicians, makes the Bengali/Cuban connection sound extremely natural. “We have exactly the same cockroaches” said Khan in his pre-concert chat.

Then pianist Alex Wilson led his Trio Mali Latino onstage. With Edwin Sanz (from Venezuela) on percussion and Ahmed Fofana (from Mali) on a glorious range of instruments including donsongoni and balafon, the trio were aided by special guest Omar Puente, who contributed some stylish Cuban violin. And thankfully, there was time for a grand finale which brought everyone to their feet and featured a welcome stage invasion of West African dancing.

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Songlines Encounters Festival 2013 line-up

Posted on February 6th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

In it’s third year, Songlines Encounters Festival promises to be a four-day aural tour around the globe. The festival will take place from June 5-8, at Kings Place in London. With collaboration at its heart, you can expect musical marriages between a trio of Balkan Bands; British classical guitarist John Williams and Palestinian band Duo Sabil, and between West African, Cuban and Bangladeshi jazz. Plus performances from some of our favourite emerging and established artists.


Wednesday June 5

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.



Thursday June 6

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



Friday June 7

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.


Saturday June 8

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


See our festival line-up page for more details or visit the Kings Place website.

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Top of the World: Malick Pathé Sow & Bao Sissoko – Aduna

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Words by Nigel Williamson

A purist African collaboration: this duo keeps it simple

There has been a glut of recent albums featuring American and European musicians collaborating with their West African counterparts. Nobody should want to discourage such admirable cross-fertilisation. But listening to this lovely acoustic offering from two of Senegal’s finest talents, one could be forgiven for concluding that West African music is at its finest without the trend-setting hybridity and when it’s left in its traditional setting. 

That said, this is a fusion of sorts, between the Fulani culture of singer, guitarist and hoddu (lute) player Sow (who spent many years as a mainstay of Baaba Maal’s band) and the Mandinka griot heritage of Sissoko (now based in Belgium). Together they create music that is timeless and totally immersing, drawing the listener into another world in which the myths and traditions of the past continue to echo and breathe with a vibrant vitality. The strings of ancient harps and lutes weave their magic with dextrous simplicity, creating a mood of all-encompassing serenity, while Sow’s voice may lack the soulfulness of Baaba Maal, he compensates with a therapeutic and soothing warmth. 

Within this template of tranquility, there’s plenty of fluidity, too. Alongside shimmering, meditative instrumentals (‘Kora Julo’ and ‘Gams’), there are elegant and stately blues numbers (‘Manio Be Kumbola’), gentle Afro-pop melodies (‘Bilbasi’), some gritty hoddu playing on the title-track and a deep and affecting homage to the late, great Ali Farka Touré. Sublime stuff.

TRACK TO TRY: Bilbasi 

Click here to buy the album on Amazon

Click here to download the album on iTunes

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