• hama sankaré Ballébé: Calling All Africans (LP, £22.25)

    Alpha Ousmane "Hama" Sankaré (aka Pedro) is a legend. He has anchored the bands of many great artists of Mali: Ali Farka Toure, Afel Bocoum, le Troupe Regionale de Niafunké, l'Orchestre de Gao, Songhoy Allstars and Mamadou Kelly's BanKaiNa, and he can be heard on many of the seminal recordings of Mali's music. He is the master of contemporary calabash percussion and defined it's the playing style. He has toured the world. Hama's influence is unchallenged as composer, arranger, and instrumentalist. Unbelievably, Ballébé - Calling All Africans is the first album in his own name! A musical adventurer, Hama explores sounds and is constantly expanding his repertoire. His knowledge of tradition reaches deeply into the past as he looks into the future for inspiration. For this album, Hama sought a variety of sounds. He asked Grammy-winning guitarist Cindy Cashdollar, whom he met in Woodstock New York in 2016, to bring her distinctive slide guitars to some of the tunes. He also asked the young singer Sekou Touré to join him. Oumar Konaté brought his guitar virtuoso skills and Sekou Bah anchors the tracks on bass. Also joining in were Mahalmadane Traoré on drums and Brehima "Yoro" Cissé and Bouba Cissao on traditional stringed instruments. To explore contemporary electronic sounds, Hama asked David Harrow in Los Angeles to mix two of the songs, pushing genre boundaries. Hama looked for loops and effects in the mix to reflect his diverse influences, while always remaining centred in Niafunke desert blues, his home in the Niger River Delta of Mali. A tour de force by Malian master musician Hama Sankaré.

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