Madou Sidiki Diabate, Ahmed Fofana & Alex Wilson/ Mali Latino at South Hill Park, Bracknell 11/11/10

Music is a language. Every musician on this planet speaks it or rather speaks a dialect derived from it, therefore there are rarely any misunderstandings between musicians and the result usually translates perfectly to the audience.

The live Mali Latino project is a prime example of this. It started in the UK on a chance encounter in 2004 between the 3 main players: Madou, kora player extraordinaire; Ahmed, remarkable balafon player and multi instrumentalist - both from Mali; and Alex, exceptional jazz pianist, of Sierra Leone heritage. It took 6 years to get to the stage!

The 10 piece band quickly set to work with “Donkan”, an excellent reminder of the power of the Malian groove, over which the various members of the band interacted splendidly. They conversed through passionate arrangements of melody and rhythm, mixing the African with the Latin, the Cool jazz with the Avant-garde, sometimes leading us into unknown landscapes once visited by Alice Coltrane, like on the breathtaking “Voyages”.  The horn section of two trombones reinforced the Latin colours of the piano, at times lending a slightly Caribbean atmosphere. The discovery of the evening was Babani Kone, an amazing singer of international calibre, almost unknown in this country, who enchanted us with her stunning voice. 

Track after track, we were taken deeper into the Mali Latino experience, a project looking to the future, breaking boundaries and improving our fluency in the language of music.

Joel Roszykiewicz

Published in SONGLINES Issue 73 Jan/Feb 2011

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