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:

 


Orchestra Baobab New Album: Tribute To Ndiouga Deng

Ten years since their last album, Senegalese pioneers of a blended Afro-Cuban and traditional West African sound, Orchestra Baobab are back with ‘Tribute To Ndiouga Deng’. The album was recorded in Moussa X’s studio in Dakar and features new compositions in honour of the group’s original leader Ndiouga Deng who passed away last year. Although the group disbanded between 1987 and 2001, its current reincarnation features its veteran core of musicians. This includes vocalist Balla Sidibe, saxophonists Issa Cissoko and rock steady rhythm section Charlie Ndiaye bass and Mountaga Koite on congas. New additions such as Kora player Abdouleye Cissoko, bring a fresh lightness to the band’s renowned feel.
Orchestra Baobab are masters of hybridity, blending Rhumba with American Jazz, Highlife, Senegalese pop and more, and this album is no exception. Tribute To Ndiouga Deng is out now on World Circuit Records.

Watch the supergroup play Jools Holland below and catch their two night residency at Jazz Cafe on 13th and 14th May!

Stream the album below and buy it here


Africa Express Presents…Terry Riley’s In C Mali in Paris May 21st

We’re glad to bring Africa Express presents… In C Mali to Louis Vuitton Foundation’s Nuit Européene des Musées. This African version of the Terry Riley classic was first conceived following our 2013 trip to Bamako’s Maison Des Jeunes. It brings together contemporary composer André de Ridder and 16 different musicians playing instruments as diverse as kora, balafon, guitar, peul flute, delta harp, riti, kalimbas and more. In keeping with Riley’s instructions, the performance is partially improvised. Each instrumentalist is free to chose the number of times they repeat one of the 53 short phrases which make up the piece. This creates an unending musical kaleidoscope.

Andre De Ridder will be joined by the exceptional Cheick Diallo (flute), Hawa Kasse Mady of Trio Da Kali (vocalist) and guitarists Romeo Stodart (The Magic Numbers) and Bryce Dessner (The National). This will be the first performance of the piece since Summer of 2016 when we brought In C Mali to Nuits Des Fourvieres and Holland Fest.

Africa Express Presents… In C Mali takes place on Sunday 21st May at 5pm Fondation Louis Vuitton, tickets here

Watch the debut performance of In C Mali in the Turbine Gallery at Tate Modern in London, Nov 2014.

Header Photo by Lol Willems

 


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.

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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