By John Soltes / Editor in Chief
NEW YORK (Nov. 8, 2010) — A motley group of Malian and Cuban musicians will converge at New York City's Town Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 9 for a concert both important in its cultural scope and historic in its long journey from concept to reality.
In the process of compiling the world-renowned musicians for the successful "Buena Vista Social Club" recordings several years ago (recordings of traditional Cuban-influenced music that would go on to a globally recognized tour, CD and documentary film), the instrumentalists from Mali, who were originally supposed to be featured, were unfortunately left out.
Apparently, the African musicians were unable to land in Havana for the recordings due to a travel mishap, and yet the collaboration continued without them. The "Buena Vista Social Club" would become the top-grossing world music album in history.
Now, it's time for a second chance.
World Circuit Records compiled many of the original musicians — the Malians included — and recorded a new CD called "AfroCubism," which was released on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The group will play two exclusive performances in the United States, one of those being New York City's Town Hall on Nov. 9.
What to expect?
Well, the CD is a 14-track album that feels culturally distinct from the original recordings. These are letters of love, loss and energy. Bassekoy Kouyate, a Malian ngoni lute player, and Djelimady TounKara, a Malian guitarist, are highlights, tearing up the sound with precise timing that somehow feels improvisational. Such classics as "Guantanamera" and other smooth ditties like "La Culebra" and "Jarabi" are played to perfection.
Although the CD features 14 tracks, more than 20 were recorded when the musicians all met, thanks to the brainstorming of Nick Gold of World Circuit Records. Expect to hear some of the album's touching instrumentals, plus some of these previously unheard tracks.
Don't be surprised if Eliades Ochoa and his Grupo Patria (who are featured on the original "Buena Vista Social Club" and on "AfroCubism") pull out some old standards like "Chan Chan," as well. Also expect Toumani Diabaté, a much-heralded player of the African harp known as the kora, and Baba Sissoko, who will play the talking drum (tamani). Both are bringing instruments and musical sensibilities that will be new to the ears of local residents.
The chance to strike gold twice is rare. On Tuesday, Nov. 9, local residents will have the chance to soak in some fresh Cuban sounds — no passport needed.
Click here to hear a sample of the music.
"AfroCubism" will perform at New York City's Town Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 9. Tickets are $35-$65. Showtime begins at 8 p.m. Visit www.ticketmaster.com for more information.