Each Wednesday, The World Africa presents three new musical releases from or inspired by the continent. This week, make way for reissues with the desert blues of the Tuareg of Tinariwen, the Santomean puxa of the big band Africa Negra and the oriental jazz born from the meeting between the American Sun Ra and the Egyptian Salah Ragab.
“The Radio Tisdas Sessions”, by Tinariwen
It is the best known of the Tuareg groups. A little over twenty years ago, in 2001, Tinariwen (“people of the desert”, in Tamashek) released her first album, The Radio Tisdas Sessions. As its name suggests, this ten-track opus was recorded in a radio studio in Kidal, in northeastern Mali – despite power cuts linked to the operation of solar panels.
The album includes songs composed by Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Kedou Ag Ossad, Foy Foy and the late Mohamed Ag Itlal aka “Japanese”, historical members of this intergenerational group rewarded in 2012 with a Grammy Award. Since March 25, this album as well as the following one, Amassakoul (2004), are available in a remastered version each including an unreleased track.
“Anthology Vol. 1″, from Africa Negra
They also recorded in a radiophonic studio, that of the national radio of Sao Tome and Principe, the only one which existed then on the Portuguese-speaking archipelago. But because of the small size of the premises, the many members of Africa Negra played more willingly in the courtyard, at night, facing the Atlantic Ocean, in front of their fans.
This group, formed in the early 1970s and still active today, released its first album in 1981, offering a tasty mix of local puxa and Cuban rumba. Many other discs followed, including twelve nuggets that the Swiss label Bongo Joe remastered, in collaboration with DJ Tom B, to offer the 1er april compilation Anthology Vol. 1, which will be followed by a second volume composed entirely of unpublished material.
“Sun Ra Arkestra Meets Salah Ragab In Egypt”
Finally, direction Egypt with the fruitful meeting, in 1983, between the pianist Sun Ra (1914-1993) and the percussionist Salah Ragab (1936-2008). At the end of a tour in Europe, the American jazz composer gave several concerts in the land of the pyramids, accompanied by his group, the Sun Ra Arkestra, and took the opportunity to record studio versions ofEgyptian Strut and dawntwo titles by Salah Ragab, in which he plays congas.
The disc, released at the time on the Greek label Praxis, has since April 8 been reissued by the British company Strut, which has added three older pieces by Salah Ragab with the Cairo Jazz Band, including A Farewell Theme, which was played at the funeral of President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970.
Find all the musical favorites of the editorial staff in the YouTube playlist of the World Africa.
“Jagwar”, the return of Terakaft in book and vinyl
In the wake of Tinariwen, another group of assouf – the Tuareg blues – will be the subject of a new publication on Friday, April 15, but this time in the form of a book. This is Terakaft (“the caravan”, in Tamashek), several members of which were also part of the Tinariwen adventure and which the French producer Philippe Brix, who worked with the two groups, recounts in Jawar, to be released by the Marseille label Secousse.
Through short texts full of humanity and humility, oscillating between memories, dreams and winks, the author takes us from Tessalit, in northeastern Mali, to a recording studio near Angers, passing through many stages of the world in the United States, the Netherlands or Macedonia. We meet figures of Malian music, but also the Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako, author in 2014 of Timbuktu, where the lead role is played by a former bassist from Terakaft. Also hovering over these pages are the shadows of Iyad Ag Ghaly, who “loved the music” before becoming a jihadist, and the Libyan Muammar Gaddafi, whose army welcomed the forgotten Tuaregs of the Malian state – “this is where some discovered the electric guitar”, recalls Philippe Brix.
Terakaft released five albums between 2007 and 2015, a time marked by Mali’s disintegration and suspicion of anything wearing a check in airports. The manager is also full of anecdotes from tours, between grounded planes and endless road trips, around which he paints a gallery of endearing, inspired and inspiring characters, without forgetting to give us the recipe for the “desert pressure cooker”, which consists of cooking sheep tripe in the stomach of the animal. It is then, under the stars, by the corner of a fire lit in the middle of the Sahara, that we will appreciate the best Jawar, the captivating eponymous track engraved on the 45-rpm which accompanies the book.