- Released: November 2, 2010
- Label: Nonesuch
Down Beat - p.594.5 stars out of 5
-- "Djelimady Tounkara's brilliantly phrased, crystal-toned lead guitar provides an electric foil to the otherwise acoustic arrangements and is a constant highlight."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.1064 stars out of 5
-- "Ochoa's Grupo Patria provides the rhythmic discipline needed to make sense of the collaboration. Cuban and West African music blends remarkably well."
Uncut (magazine) - p.815 stars
out of -- "[A] blissful mix of mostly traditional tunes....There's a thrilling crispness to the entire record."
Uncut (magazine) - p.35Ranked #29
in Uncut's "The 50 Best Albums of 2010" -- "[A]n amazingly harmonious summit."
- 1.Mali Cuba
- 2.Al Vaiv?n De Mi Carreta [The Swaying of My Cart]
- 3.Karamo [The Hunter]
- 4.Djelimady Rumba
- 5.La Culebra [The Snake]
- 6.Jarabi [Passion]
- 7.Eliades Tumbao 27
- 9.Nima Diyala [I Beg You My Sweetheart]
- 10.A La Luna Yo Me Voy [I'm Going to the Moon]
- 12.Para Los Pinares Se Va Montoro [Montoro's Going to Los Pinares]
- 13.Bens?ma [Change]
- 14.Guantanamera [Woman From Guant namo]
Personnel: Eliades Ochoa (vocals, acoustic guitar); Kass?-Mady Diabat? (vocals); Osnel Odit (acoustic guitar); Djelimady Tounkara (electric guitar); Toumani Diabat? (kora); Gabriel Fonseca (violin); Alain a. Dragoni, Lennis Lara (trumpet); Fod? Lassana Diabat? (balafon); Jos? Angel Martˇnez (double bass); Jorge Maturell (congas, bongos, cowbells); Baba Sissoko (talking drum); Eglis Ochoa (guiro, maracas); Virgilio Valdes (maracas).
Audio Mixer: Jerry Boys.
Photographers: Paco Manzano; Christina Jaspers.
Cast your mind back to 1996 for a moment. A group of old-school Cuban musicians are assembled -- with some help from Ry Cooder -- for a recording intended to introduce the rest of the world to classic Cuban music. The resulting Buena Vista Social Club album -- aided by a documentary about the process -- becomes a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring an unprecedented degree of interest not only in Cuban music, but international music of all kinds. A brilliant idea works out perfectly, right? Sure, except that this wasn't actually the original plan. Initially, World Circuit Records' producer Nick Gold had planned for Cooder and the Cubans to be joined by lute player Bassekou Kouyate and guitarist Djelimady Tounkara, two of Mali's finest musicians. At the last minute, the Malians were unable to secure visas to travel to Cuba for the session, and the agenda was re-jiggered. Fast-forward 16 years into the future -- the plans for that original Cuban/Malian crossover are finally realized with the recording of Afrocubism. And this time, not only are Kouyate and Tounkara on hand, interacting with an all-star cast of Cuban players like singer/guitarist Eliades Ochoa and percussionist Jorge Maturell, but there's an additional batch of Mali's finest, including renowned kora master Toumani Diabat? and innovative balafon player Lassana Diabat? (no relation to Toumani). But Afrocubism shouldn't be viewed as some sort of alternative-universe version of Buena Vista Social Club -- it has its own very singular sonic identity. The most immediately striking element is the way the tumbling riffs of the Malians -- particularly Kouyate and both Diabat?s -- seem to fall so naturally into the percolating Cuban polyrhythms underlined by Maturell and elaborated upon by Ochoa. There's a lot of listening going on in both camps, and an obvious musical empathy between them. Whether they're playing more Malian-leaning compositions like Djelimady's "Nima Diyala" (where Lassana makes amazing use of dual balafons tuned a semitone apart) or a Cuban classic like the late Beny Mor?'s "La Culebra," the Afrocubism ensemble puts a whole new slant on the "Afro-Cuban" tag, making for a true musical meeting of minds between the two cultures. ~ J. Allen