Ticket Giveaway: AfroCubism Revisited 23rd April

On April 23rd, the sounds of Cuba and West Africa come together at The Islington Assembly Hall. Afrocubism Revisited curated by Barbican  is a celebration of Afrocubism, the seminal album released in 2010 featuring  Toumani Diabaté, Bassekou Kouyaté, Eliades Ochoia and more. As well as re-interpreting classics from the album, the live show explores the deep rooted history of collaboration crucial to both musical styles.

Expect to see N’goni virtuoso (and Africa Express veteran) Bassekou Kouyaté on stage alongside Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita. (Watch this video of their latest collaboration with Orchestra of Syrian Musicians.) The musicians are joined by the Cuban Trio made up of Yelfris Valdés (trumpet), Piki Bosh (guitar) and Hammadi Valdés (percussion).

To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets, simply share and like this post on facebook and twitter. (Competition ends 19th April)

Tickets on sale now.
Stream the seminal album below:

Terms and Conditions: The competition is open to entrants in UK. All entries must be received by 19th April 2017. A winner will be selected at random and notified within one day of the above closing date via their social media. The winner will then have one day to respond and claim the tickets, after which the tickets will be allocated to someone else.

Record Store Day Vinyl Release for The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Guests

This year Record Store Day turns 10 on April 22nd. And what’s more, you’ll be able to get your hands on the vinyl edition of Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Guests! This gatefold double LP is on 180gram vinyl, with cover art from Ayman Oghanna (front cover photo) and Tammam Azzam (back cover).Read more about the making of the album here and watch last summer’s Royal Festival Hall show below.
The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Guests was made possible with the support of Google Play Music and co commissioned by 14-18 Now & Holland Festival.



Album Giveaway: Janka Nabay's Build Music out March 24th

Sierra Leonean singer and Bubu music revivalist Janka Nabay has a compelling back story. He fled the Sierra Leonean conflict in 2003, relocated to Philadelphia and worked in chicken shops and restaurants. In 2010, after hearing recordings of his 1990s tapes, journalist Wills Glaspiegel tracked Janka Nabay down. A band was formed, they played regular sets at local Brooklyn music venues and in 2012 released debut album En Yah Say on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. Well received by the likes of NPR, Pitchfork and more, the album’s success led to live shows at Bonaroo and MOMA.

Five years on, Janka has returned to the studio to craft Build Music, a revisiting of his original Sierra Leone recordings. The album picks up where Janka’s electronic Bubu sounds left off in the 1990s, melding Casio synths and retro drum machines with poignant lyrics describing the conflicts of life as an immigrant. This self described “black cowboy’s” music speaks for itself. Stream ‘Santa Monica’ from the forthcoming album below.

Pre-order Build Music here and for a chance to win a copy of the album, simply like and retweet this post. (Competition ends March 21st)

Terms and Conditions: The competition is open to entrants in UK. All entries must be received by 21st March 2017. A winner will be selected at random and notified within two days of the above closing date via their social media. The winner will then have two 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.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou Live in London May 31st

Benin is home to the renowned T.P Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. Formed in 1996, the band released around 50 albums and over 100 singles, garnering well earned legendary status. A flourish of interest in the band in the late 2000s surged as labels such as  Soundway Records and Analog Africa took turns in re-issuing their old classics. In 2011 Strut Records released Cotonou Club a record of entirely new music and performed at Scala to celebrate. Six years on, the band have returned to London to promote their latest album, Madjafalao (which we gave away two copies of when it was first released!).

Catch the Orchestra live at 229 on May 31st. Tickets available here.




Orchestre Polyrythmo

Oumou Sangare's New Album: Mogoya out on May 19th!

Luckily for Africa Express, Oumou Sangaré has graced our stages twice, once at BBC Electric Proms at Koko in 2008 and at Paris’ Hotel De Ville in 2009. Now we’re delighted to hear that the Malian superstar is releasing her new album Mogoya (meaning “people today”) on Nø Format on May 19th 2017! Whilst last year saw the re-issue of her seminal debut album Moussolou, this is the first taste of new solo music from Oumou Sangaré since 2012.

You’ll hear a mix of traditional instruments including the kamele n’goni (harp), karignan (metal scraper) and calabash blend with electric guitar, keys, bass and synths on the album. “It was new for me because my music has never had this kind of arrangement and sound before. I’ve been totally in the tradition for years now so to get out of that and have a look around elsewhere was a total pleasure,” said Oumou in describing the creative process behind the album.

Oumou will also be performing at Scala in London with her own band on 16th May for the first time since 2011, a show not to be missed. Tickets are on sale here now.

Wrap your ears around the “colourfully invigorating” first track off the record ‘Yere Faga’ which features master drummer and long time Africa Express friend Tony Allen.

Stream it here:

Header photo by Susan Schulman.

RIP 'Fantastic Man' William Onyeabor

Nigerian electronic afro-funk pioneer William Onyeabor has sadly passed away, aged 70. The elusive artist found popularity in 1970s/80s Nigeria where his iconic blend of afro rhythms and synthesisers gave him a totally unique sound. Though always elusive (and consistently bootlegged around the world), Onyeabor rose to mythic status with the help of Luaka Bop‘s release of the seminal Who is William Onyeabor in 2013.  A businessman, producer, record label president, innovator, and many more titles, Onyeabor carved out a niche rooted in idiosyncrasy. Tributes to William Onyeabor have flooded in from across the world, including David Byrne who participated in Atomic Bomb, a series of live renditions of Onyeabor’s work.

Read tributes from The Guardian, and NPR, and find out more about the man behind the music, in Noisey’s ‘Fantastic Man’ documentary:

Salif Keita at Barbican, February 10th!

Malian singer and living legend Salif Keita performs at London’s Barbican Centre on February 10th. The world renowned artist brings his blend of griot sensibility, rock, jazz and funk to London for one night only. He will be supported by Kora virtuouso Sona Jobarteh. She will be performing material from her debut album Fayisa. 

Tickets for the show are available here. You also have a chance to catch Salif in Cambridge on 11th Feb. Don’t miss out, and watch the videos below for a taste of what’s in store!

Africa Express Presents...The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Guests Album Out Now!

We’re delighted to announce the release of a live album entitled Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests, which is out now on Transgressive Records!  Click here to stream and download the album exclusively on Google Play Music.

                                             ★★★★ – The Independent       7/10 Uncut Magazine        ★★★★ – MOJO

We recorded the album live in June when The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians came together for the first time since the conflict in their country flared up five years ago. They were joined by artists from Britain, Syria, Algeria, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Turkey, Tunisia and the United States including Bassekou KouyatéBu KolthoumDamon AlbarnEslam JawaadFaia YounanJulia HolterMalikahMounir TroudiNoura Mint SeymaliPaul WellerRachid Taha and Seckou Keita.

Raghad Haddad, orchestra member (viola) from Damascus said: “The album is very important to us. It was a very unique project, artists from all over the world performing with the most brilliant musicians from Syria. It was an honour for me. And this new album will give people another opportunity to get to know The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians for what we are – passionate, professional musicians.”

The joyous and uplifting album showcases Syrian and Arabic music, alongside unique interpretations of some well-known Western songs. It features tracks recorded live at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall –  a show described in a 5 star review by the Evening Standard as “an epic paean to their lost homeland”- as well as songs from the storming opening slot on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage and the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Istanbul Jazz Festival and Roskilde Festival in Denmark.

This album was made possible with the support of Google Play Music.

Co commissioned by 14-18 Now & Holland Festival

Full track listing:

# Track Title – Artist

Track listing:

  1. Intro – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  2. 3azely – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  3. Wild Wood – Paul Weller & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  4. Yah Mahla El Fus’ha – Faia Younan & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  5. Out of Time – Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  6. Rakeb 3al Hamra – Mounir Troudi & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  7. Feel You – Julia Holter & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  8. Al Ajaleh – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Bassekou Kouyaté & Seckou Keita
  9. Blackbird – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Damon Albarn & Paul Weller
  10. Old Damascus – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  11. Richa – Noura Mint Seymali & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  12. White Flag – Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Eslam Jawaad, Malikah, Ceza & Bu Kolthoum
  13. Ya Rayeh – Rachid Taha & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  14. Oghneyat Men Baladi – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

Ghana Soundz Repressed by Soundway Records

2002 saw the first release of ‘Ghana Soundz: Afro-Beat, Funk & Fusion in 70’s Ghana’, a record which brought the genesis of a specifically Ghanaian genre, to a wider global audience. Renowned for its collation of loud horns, pounding beats and bold vocals, the record documents an era which saw highlife blend with the influences of James Brown, Fela, Santana and more. The first ever compilation from Soundway, ‘Ghana Soundz’ gained worldwide acclaim thanks to the use of one of the tracks, ‘Bukom Mashie’ in Hollywood Blockbuster The Last King of Scotland.

Some 15 years after initial release, the seminal compilation is being repressed by Soundway Records, out on 2xLP January 27th. You can pre-order your copy of the exclusive vinyl here, with tracks from the legendary Ebo Taylor, Oscar Sulley and The Uhuru Dance Band and more.