Songlines Jan Issue 2012
Seckou Keita Miro Astar (48 mins)
Well-travelled griot keeps the home fires burning
Seckou Keita is representative of a new breed of African musician for whom the world really has become a global village. Born into a griot family in the Casamance region of Senegal, he now lives in Nottingham, and recorded this album in six countries across three continents, from Dakar to Havana and from Seville to Bogota. The opening track ‘Rewmi’ (Country) was a popular anthem calling for unity during the Senegalese elections earlier this year, with Keita’s rippling kora work and sturdy voice underpinned by female backing vocals, calabash and the throbbing pulse of Cuban bass player Michel ‘Pata’ Salazar. ‘Hino’ finds the Spanish singer Inma ‘La Carbonera’ delivering a characteristically passionate flamenco vocal in duet with the soulful, Arabic-tinged voice of Mohamed Diaby over Keita’s lovely solo kora. Salazar returns again on ‘Kouma’, a tour de force on which he’s joined by Colombian percussion, flute and balafon. Yet the album is far from being a global mishmash of styles. Rather it beats strongly with a sense of unity of purpose, rooted in both Mandinka and Wolof traditions, so that however far Keita’s musical travels take him, his proud griot heritage journeys with him.
TRACK TO TRY: Kouma