Remembering Marco

It was with a terrible sadness and shock we received the news that our friend and fellow passenger Marc-Antoine Moreau had died on Wednesday in Paris, of complications arising from malaria.  He was taken away from us just when his life was entering a beautiful new phase, with a new job in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, as head of Universal Africa – the kind of challenge that animated Marco’s dreams. He loved Africa and African music like birds love the air, never feeling better than when he was standing in a ramshackle bar in the downtown bustle of some great African city, ice-cold local beer in his hand, cig between his fingers, checking out new talent.

As one of the founders and key movers of Africa Express, Marco lived and breathed the principle that African music, art and culture shouldn’t be ghettoised or patronised but rather nurtured with respect. He was a sterling presence at our events, always astute in his musical judgement and suggestions – and always up for the craic. The list of bands he managed or helped in some major way is truly astounding. It starts with Amadou and Mariam of course, but also includes Cheick Tidiane Seck, Mamani Keita, Mo DJ, Jupiter and Okwess, K’naan, Chérif M’Baw, Mounir Troudi, Songhoy Blues and so many more.  Cities like Bamako and Kinshasa were almost second homes to him, loving to buzz around bars and neighbourhoods on a moped in search of music, people and life.

Above all, he was a dependable friend. He might have scaled rare heights in his chosen profession, and hob-nobbed with stars and luminaries, but he was always there with a hug, an idea and a huge bucket full of inspiration and enthusiasm. We will miss him terribly, richer as we all are for all the music, the good times, the laughter, the love that he gave us.

Marco…notre ami…may the groove be loud and funky in your heaven, and may the earth rest light upon you here below…

 


On The Corner Records: Triple Album Giveaway!

Mugwisa International Xylophone Group hail from Iganga, Uganda and play the embaire, a powerhouse xylophone that requires 12 people to play it. The instrument is dug into a pit for extra resonance and is often used for ceremonies that last for hours. This special strand of Ugandan folk  music was first formally released by On The Corner Records last year. This year they’ve returned with a rip-roaring Iganga Embaire EP, recently featured in Vinyl Factory’s Best New Releases. 

In celebration of the release, we’ve teamed up with On The Corner Records to offer one lucky winner a triple pack which includes the newly released Mugwisa record and the 2016 Embaire Umeme release. Alongside these two gems, we’ll also be giving away The Search,  the latest album from Collocutor – the experimental jazz band led by friend of Africa Express and stellar sax player Tamar Osborn. With support from Ethiojazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke and tastemaker Gilles Peterson, Collocutor’s second album is definitely one for your collection.

For your chance to win these three records, simply sign up to our mailing list and share this post on your social media channels. Competition closes on December 6th and a  winner will be announced within 2 days.

Listen to the albums below for a taste of what you might have in store!

 


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Terms and Conditions: The competition is open to entrants in UK. All entries must be received by 6th Dec 2017. A winner will be selected at random and notified within three days of the above closing date by email. The winner will then have three days to respond and claim the prize. The winner will be required to supply details of a valid delivery/postal address. Once confirmed, the prize will be shipped free of charge. By entering this giveaway you confirm that Africa Express are allowed to contact you via email only with information on new products, shows or competitions. You can unsubscribe from these emails at any time.


Oumou Sangare In The Round: 31st Jan 2018

Earlier this year the revered ‘Songstress of Wassoulu’, Oumou Sangare released Mogoya, her first album in 8 years. Now she brings her new material to the Roundhouse for a special, intimate one off show on Wednesday 31st January 2018. The new album out on No-Format marks a shift in Oumou’s artistic voice, made with young producers from France and Sweden Mogoya  (which translates as Today’s People) seems crafted to speak to a new younger audience. The album, which features a stunning collab with Tony Allen (listen to Yere Faga here), carries stories about Mali’s current political crises, migration and more, bubbling over a bed of driving riffs and uptempo rhythms. Now seems as good a time as any to see one of the world’s most powerful vocalists in her element.

Doors at 7pm on Wed 31st Jan, tickets available now

Oumou’s performance kicks off a week of In The Round gigs, find out more about the other artists here.

 

For a taste of what’s in store watch Nowness’ stunning video of Oumou’s latest track ‘Kamelemba’:

Photo by  Benoit Peverelli


Blick Bassy Headline UK Tour - Union Chapel Nov 17th

Cameroonian singer and guitarist Blick Bassy brings material from his latest album ‘Akö’ to the UK for a week. Released on french label No Format, ‘Akö’ is inspired by American Blues artist Skip James and features Blick singing in Bassa (one of Cameroon’s 260 native languages). Blick brings his live set to venues around the UK, performing with Johan Blanc on trombone and Clément Petit on cello, alongside his own distinctive falsetto, guitar and banjo. The headline tour kicks off with a special performance as part of The London Folk and Roots Festival at London’s Union Chapel on 17th November (tickets here)

 
Watch a new live version of Ndjè Yèm’ for a taste of what to expect:

See below for tour dates and ticket info:

 

Fri 17 November LONDON Union Chapel

 

Sat 18 November LEEDS Headrow House

 

Sun 19 November GALLOWAY Catstrand

 

Mon 20 November GLASGOW The Hug & Pint

 

Tues 21 November NORWICH Norwich Arts Centre

 

Fri 24 November BRISTOL Bristol Playhouse

 

Sat 25 November LIVERPOOL Philharmonic

 


Paul Weller and Krar Collective team up on new track

Krar Collective are the Ethiopian (London based) three piece band who joined our UK train tour in 2012. Five years on, the trio have toured the US and played stages like Paris’ Musee du Quai Branly amongst others. Paul Weller joined our most recent tour with the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians in 2016, offering audiences this stunning rendition of Wild Wood . It’s a pleasure to see these Africa Express alumni collaborating to bring you a cross genre experiment in the form of ‘Mother Ethiopia Part 3’. Krar Collective feature on the third and final part of this project, which will be out on 12 inch vinyl from September 29th.

Pre-order Mother Ethiopia here and listen to Krar’s contribtuion to Mother Ethiopia below!

Photo by Jacob Crawfurd: Krar Collective, live at Womex 2011.


Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet Release New Album: Ladilikan

In June 2016 Malian singer Hawa Kassé Mady Diabate joined us for Africa Express presents Terry Riley’s In C Mali. She  performed both at Holland Festival (Amsterdam) and Les Nuits Des Fourvieres in Lyon. The daughter of Mali’s greatest traditional singer Kassé Mady Diabate, Hawa is joined by some of Mali’s most renowned musicians. Her star studded band Trio Da Kali, features Lassana Diabaté on balafon and Mamadou Kouyaté on bass ngoni. The trio are set to release their debut album Ladilikan on 15th September on World Circuit Records.

The album is a collaboration with leading San Francisco based Kronos Quartet, also known as the world’s most adventurous string quartet, with over 60 albums under their belt. Kronos and Da Kali come together, blending southern Mali’s Mande sonorities with Kronos’ mix of violas, violin and cello. The group collaborated with American composer Jacob Garchik to arrange Trio Da Kali’s repertoire, bringing it into new uncharted territory.

Listen to the result below, Eh Ya Ye Ye is the first single off the debut album ‘Ladilikan’ by Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet, out on 15th September:

You can pre-order Ladilikan (out on World Circuit Records) here .

Photo by Jay Blakesberg


The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians at Womad and Cambridge Folk Fest

Last summer, Africa Express reunited a Syrian Orchestra who had played with Gorillaz back in 09, and since been scattered across the globe by the ongoing conflict.  These incredible musicians reformed as ‘The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians’ for a tour of Europe featuring guests such as Noura Mint Seymali , Julia Holter , Bassekou Kouyate , Paul Weller and more. The played the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, headlined the Holland festival, sold out the Royal Festival Hall and released a critically acclaimed live album.  
A year on, with the conflict in Syria ongoing, many of the members of The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians have settled in the UK and Europe.  How lucky we are that they are able to bring their beautiful Syrian sounds to stages across the UK. Recently playing main stages at WOMAD (listen to their set on BBC3)  and Cambridge Folk Festival, the Orchestra shared their own arrangements of classical Arabic music and melodies with eager audiences, and featured a guest turn from their friend Maverick Sabre who joined them for a beautiful Syrian version of his hit ‘I need’ and the poignant ‘A Change is Gonna Come’.  

They weren’t the only Africa Express Alumni on the festival circuit – having met at Africa Express’ headline show for Fiesta Des Seds Marseilles Marseille in 2013 Fatoumata Diawara , Toumani Diabate and his son Sidiki  joined forces with (-M-)  as brand new supergroup Lamomali. They’re now set to tour Europe from November onwards, find out more here and put on your dancing shoes.

Watch The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians’ set at Cambridge Folk Festival on Sky Arts TV.

                     Mohamad Saleh on Qanoon

Maverick Sabre

Tarek Zaidieh


Jupiter & Okwess New Album: ‘Kin Sonic’

We had the pleasure of inviting Congolese superband Jupiter & Okwess to the Africa Express train tour in 2012. Their infectious energy and musicianship was undeniable then, and it’s a delight to see the global release of their second album Kin Sonic today. The album features collaborations from fellow Africa Express alumni Warren Ellis of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds on violin and Damon Albarn on keys. Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja also offered his own contribution in designing the album cover.

In true Jupiter style, the album blends political critique with storytelling and engrossing rhythms, offering a kaleidoscopic soundscape of today’s Congo. You’ll  hear the sound of Jupiter’s experiences, from living on the streets of Kinshasa (at age 18) to touring the world, cascading through the album. All of this held down by sturdy basslines from Yendé, impossibly dexterous rhythms from Montana (of Staff Benda Bilili) and infectious riffs from guitarists Eric and Richard – Blaise’s vocals provide a counter point to Jupiter’s enigmatic bass tone.

You can catch this Congolese powerhouse  live at Camden Assembly on August 25th, alongside Mali’s BKO Quartet. Tickets are still available hereKin Sonic is out now on Glitterbeat Records, available on CD, 180g vinyl and digitally.

Watch the video to the lead single Okafombolo here and stream the album below:

 


Tunisian Desert Trance: Ifriqiyya Electrique

When thinking of desert music, bands like Tamikrest and the genre defining Tinariwen come to mind. Tunisian band Ifriqiyya Electrique widen the term with their new album Rûwâhîne. Rooted in the traditional Banga music of south Tunisia, Ifriqiyya Electrique craft a ‘post-industrial’ sound originating blending ritual with computers and avant rock.
Louder Than War’s 10/10 review described the album as ‘a curious but incredible mix of desert rock, of multiple percussion, of chanting, hip-hop and hints of Nine Inch Nails’. It is a mix of Tunisian tablas, Krakebs, guitars, electronic and layered voices.  Listen to the album out now on Glitterbeat Records.

You can catch Ifriqiyya Electrique live at Womad on 29th July, until then – watch their video below: