Albums

Africa - Released May 5, 2014 | World Circuit

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio - Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Africa - Released April 8, 2013 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio

Africa - Released March 16, 2018 | Buda musique

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released April 24, 2015 | Glitterbeat Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Africa - Released October 28, 2016 | Numero Group

Distinctions Best New Reissue - Songlines Five-star review
Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta is a hefty, handsome box set; it's equal parts photo exhibit and musical anthology documenting the landlocked nation (now known as Burkina Faso) during the 1970s. It shines a light on Bobo-Dioulasso's music scene as an explosion of pop culture paved the way for 1983's coup d'etat led by Thomas Sankara (a former jazz musician) to rename the country. Revolution is a process, not an event, and this artifact offers one kind of proof. The 176-page hardbound book provides an introductory essay with a fine historical overview of colonial, post-colonial, and pre-revolutionary Upper Volta. A short note by photographer Sory Sanle offers his story, and is followed by dozens of his quietly stunning black-and-white photos that include studio portraits, promo shots of musicians, and night-time street scenes. There are biographies of the country's legendary groups Volta Jazz, Dafra Star (led by former -- and best -- VJ vocalist Coulibaly Tidiani), Echo del Africa, and Les Imbattables Leopards, and interviews. Full-color photos of various recordings adorn some pages, as do complete discographies of important labels. And, of course, there is the music. The set includes a disc each by Volta Jazz and Dafra Star. They offer rare tracks illustrating a startling crossroads where Malian and Nigerian melodies and rhythms collide with those of Ghana and Niger. Along the way, they encounter and build on Cuban rhythms, rock, and R&B sounds from the Americas. Check Volta Jazz's mind-melting "Mousso Koroba Tike." Fuzzed-up psychedelic wah-wah guitars and rock drums run headlong into highlife, accompanied by polyrhythmic hand drums and souled-out vocal harmonies. Contrast this with Dafra Star's fusion of call-and-response Malian folk and Latin-inspired funk in "Sie Koumgolo." Echo del Africa opens disc three with the cooking, Afrobeat-drenched funk of "Gentlemen Doromina." Later, they showcase a driving, Yoruban-cum-Juju pulse and chant in "Yiri Wah." Les Imbattables Leopards move through sweet, tender Afro-soul on "Milaoba" then get salsa-fied on "Nene." This disc also includes the popping dance number "He Ya Wanna" by Ouedraogo Youssef -- complete with Stax soul-styled horns -- and "Arindo" by Idy-O-Idrissa, a waltz-time R&B ballad whose melody derives from the Sahel folk tradition. Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta is one of Numero's most obsessively assembled artifacts, and given their high standards, that's saying plenty. While many labels release varied, excellent portraits of music from the African continent, Numero's project illustrates a particular place and time that laid the foundation for an entire people to build a nation. ~ Thom Jurek

Africa - Released January 24, 2012 | Cristal records

Distinctions 3F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks
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Africa - Released June 7, 1973 | Analog Africa

Distinctions 3F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks
3 stars out of 5 -- "[I]ts four tracks still pack a punch. Fela Kuti provides the model for their loping rhythms, stinging guitar riffs and sax and keyboard solos..."

Africa - Released September 19, 2011 | World Circuit

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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4 stars out of 5 -- "Playing with a small band, she sets up intricate backing tracks that lean a little on jazz and funk, but it's her insistence on memorable hooks in the chorus that make the songs special.
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Africa - Released March 28, 1994 | World Circuit

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Before taking his friend Wim Wenders to Havana and hitting the jackpot by producing the Cuban grandpas that would soon be known throughout the world under the name Buena Vista Social Club, the American guitarist Ry Cooder took an interest in the grooves from the doors of the Malian desert and the unforgettable guitar playing of Ali Farka Touré. Supervised by the English label World Circuit, this summit meeting between the gentleman farmer/guitarist from Niafunké and the Rolling Stones’ partner (on Sticky Fingers) who created the soundtrack for film Paris, Texas, has gone down in history and earned a Grammy Award for its authors. The ten pieces sung by Ali in Pular, Bambara, Songhay or Tamasheq have been composed in Mali and recorded in Los Angeles. For the party, Ry Cooder has invited bass player John Patitucci, drummer Jim Keltner and Louisiana veteran Gatemouth Brown, on guitar and violin to come and meet their rolling groove brothers from Mali; Ali Farka Touré, on guitar and njarka (a violin with a single chord), drummer and singer Hamma Sankaré on calabash and drummer Oumar Touré on congas. The two teams are on exactly the same wavelength and give the illusion that their two homelands have gotten closer, that the Mississippi is the extension of the Niger River. It would be reductive to call their combined music blues, a label that Ali Farka Touré has always rejected. But it’s undeniable that this disc, which gave the Malian guitarist a worldwide audience, is and will remain a classic. © BM/Qobuz

Africa - Released March 23, 2018 | World Circuit

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Africa - Released June 27, 2005 | World Circuit

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

Africa - Released September 15, 2017 | World Circuit

Booklet Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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For 40 years now, the Kronos Quartet (which was founded by the violinist David Harrington) has been exploring the limits of art music from the western world and it’s possible comparison with traditions of all ethnic backgrounds. Here they tune up with a trio of virtuosos from Mali who descended from a large family of griots. The powerful singer Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté is the daughter of the well-respected Kassé Mady Diabaté. On the bass we have N’goni, Mamadou Kouyaté, the daughter of the master of this instrument - Bassekou Kouyaté. Finally, there’s Fodé Lassana Diabaté, who is one of the most sought after balafon players in the world. This work, paired with the chamber music group from San Francisco, started in 2013 and was driven by the Agha Khan Music Initiative, which brought together these two poles. Slowly but surely, the Kronos Quartet brought together bit by bit this collation so as to move towards an untouched musical space where each world seems to put the other first and work on establishing a new horizon. © BM/Qobuz

Africa - Released April 1, 2005 | Palm Pictures

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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In 2001 Baaba Maal was internationally renowned as one of the most important African stars. Produced in collaboration with Chris Blackwell, who discovered Bob Marley, the Senegalese singer’s previous albums contributed to defining the great currents of world music during the nineties. He put Senegalese rap on the map, experimented with Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno and other sound adventurers. With Missing You he’s the first important African artist to go back to his acoustic roots. Produced by Englishman John Leckie (Radiohead, Stone Roses…) this album was recorded in a mobile studio in the centre of Toucouleur village of Toubab Dialaw. With the exception of an electric bass, all instruments are acoustic: guitars, kora, hoddu, tambin, balafon and numerous percussions such as tama, sabra drums and congas. Numerous choristers, both male and female, have been used in support of the already powerful voice of Baaba Maal. The songs, composed for the occasion, take full advantage of the natural environment in which they were recorded as animal cries and atmospheres of vigils punctuate intimate ballads. And even though we can’t actually discern it, it’s obvious the public galvanised the musicians during the album’s liveliest tracks. Despite the years, this album hasn’t shown any sign of ageing and remains a wonderful way to experience the atmosphere of African nights at a Peul village, animated by its brightest star. © BM/Qobuz
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Africa - Released May 19, 2017 | Strut

Distinctions Best New Reissue

Africa - Released March 31, 2017 | World Circuit

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Going ten years between albums is no big deal for Senegal's Orchestra Baobab, whose integration of West African and Afro-Cuban styles made them a sensation in 1970. After cutting more than 20 albums between then and 1987, they split up for 15 years. They reunited for a tour in 2001, just as 1989's classic Pirates Choice was reissued by World Circuit. They followed the tour with the killer set Specialist in All Styles, comprised of new material, a year later. (It was produced by Youssou N'Dour.) After more international touring, local residencies, and family commitments, it took another six years for Made in Dakar to materialize, but it was worth the wait. Any band with a 47-year history has seen changes; OB is no exception. These began in 1974 when their original Wolof singer Laye Mboup was killed in a car crash. The band's two great Casamance vocalists, Balla Sidibe and Rudy Gomis, enlisted Ndiouga Dieng -- the subject of this tribute -- to fill his shoes. Dieng was an active member until his death in 2016. (He was replaced by his son for this recording.) Founding guitarist Barthelemy Attisso, from Togo, also left to pursue his law career full-time. Sidibe, Gomis, saxophonists Issa Cissoko and Thierno Koite, and longtime rhythm section -- bassist Charlie Ndiaye and conguero Mountaga Koite -- remain the core. (Sidibe also plays timbales.) New rhythm guitarist Yahya Fall (Etoile de Dakar) joins the section with Oumar Sow and Rene Sowatche. For the first time in their history, they have a kora player in Abdouleye Cissoko, and the trademark sax section gets a boost in the bottom end from new trombonist Wilfried Zinzou. This version of the band doesn't burn so much as it simmers, and it's a wonderful thing. On opener "Foulo," the interplay between guitars and kora creates a gentle sway. The horns and percussion don't strut, they slide. The Casamance vocalists glide over the top of the rhythm section, creating a great vibe for dancing or romancing. Following suit is the single "Fayinkounko," with its R&B-styled horn lines, hypnotic percussion, and bubbling dubwise bass. The stringed instruments all trade places while painting the tune's frame. "Natalia" is an Afro-Cuban son at heart, with sultry saxophone exchanges and punchy guitars and drums kissed by Cissoko's bright kora to create contrast. Former Baobab member and African singing superstar Thione Seck rejoins the band in order to reprise his first hit with them in a smoking version of "Sey." Likewise, Cheikh Lo also guests on "Magnokouto," a gorgeous marriage of Northern Senegalese pop and pachanga. "Caravana" weds a rhumba-esque bolero to sweet griot soul. In sum, Tribute To Ndiouga Dieng may delineate a new phase for this band in the studio, but the music on offer is satisfying; it's deeper and wider and the elements of joy are untouched by time. And make no mistake, it still slides down the spine toward the belly to create an almost irresistible temptation to dance. ~ Thom Jurek

Africa - Released September 14, 2018 | Analog Africa

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released May 11, 2018 | World Circuit

Booklet Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released January 1, 1999 | World Circuit

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
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Africa - Released March 17, 2017 | Glitterbeat Records

Booklet Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released November 15, 2004 | Buda musique

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
A bunch of brass instruments repeating an overpowering melody, supported by jerky and rippling rhythms. It’s already irresistible, but when Mahmoud Ahmed’s sensual singing starts, ascending and descending this mountain of groove without ever losing breath, the listener approaches an ecstasy that continues throughout the following tracks. It was through this disc, which gathers recordings from 1975, that the Western World discovered Ethio-jazz and its emblematic crooner. Distributed for the first time in 1986 by the Belgian label Crammed Records, this collection of treasures, gathered by producer Francis Falceto, stirred up the enthusiasm of the press and of the lovers of the nascent phenomenon of World Music. But this success was stifled in Ethiopia, until 1991 and the end of the dictatorial regime, which took a dim view on this disheveled national representation. It took another ten years and the initiative from the Buda label to accompany Falceto in his ambition to re-release, through the collection Ethiopiques, the entirety of the masterpieces produced in Addis Ababa during the golden age of this music, at the start of the 1970s. The success of the unique blend of local music, rhythm ‘n’ blues and jazz has been growing steadily since. It has revitalized the career of its most valid actors and generated vocations among young musicians. © BM/Qobuz

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Africa in the magazine