Some of the first world music I heard was from West Africa. I started out with Senegalese music then discovered Malian music and West African music found a place in my life. With so many musical styles hailing from West Africa, sometimes bands come along that mix and match while causes us to dance our feet off. Debademba (led by guitarist Abdoulaye Traoré of Ghana and Malian griot vocalist Mohamed Diaby) performs High Life (Ghana), mbalax (Senegal), Afro-Beat (Nigeria) and griot blues (Mali) on their second album, Souleymane. These musicians supply us with ample infectious rhythms played on calabashes and other percussion, shimmering kora, acoustic guitar, soaring vocals, as well as, violin, cello, flute, piano and chorus (women and men vocals). I dare you not to dance.
Okay, so it’s not all fast grooves and primal beats. Djiki snakes along to Arabic modes with vocals so stunning my teeth ache from the beauty. Dianamo also slows down as Diaby laments with a voice that can stop traffic. But when these guys turn up the heat on the High Life song, Dema, or the Afro-Beat song, Saiwa (heavy on the horns), or the griot send-up Tourma, there’s no way a listener is not going to get up and dance. Only the most stoic person could resist and why would anyone want to resist these delicious beats? They close with an instrumental, Pleine Lune that combines Tuareg rhythms (hand claps) with Malian desert blues and what a send off it is (unless you press the replay button, which I am tempted to do). And I just bet there’s someone on your holiday list who adores West African music and if there isn’t, time to make some new friends.