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Free Reeds in Africa and The Indian Ocean

While it is certainly not a "traditional" instrument in any part of the African continent, it has certainly become ubiquitous, from the pop of Sudan to both the Boer and Zulu music of South Africa, and in some degree, to most places in between. Last year we covered some of the best known artists in Africa (see below), so this year we are going to look at some artists who are working with non-Africans or non-African traditions to create interesting new blends of music.

Alaji M'Bye and Roland Gottlow
with Anders Birgerson

Kora, accordion and electric guitar in a blend of traditions from Gambia and Sweden. It sounds improbable, but the results are a thing of beauty.

Rene Lacaille, Reunion


With a culture created from African, Indian and European roots, Reunion is a classic "crossroads," musical mash; rich, complicated and unique. Lacaille epitomizes this belnd of history in his percussive, energetic style.

Madagascar also shares the Indian Ocean islands' mix of cultures, with strong influences from both African and Indonesia. Perhaps the premiere player from the island is Rossy, who has gotten some small measure of fame from various recent Malagasy pop records he has been involved with.

The wonderful Basque trixitixia master Kepa Junkera has done a brilliant cross-cultural exchange with Malagasy vahila player Justin Vali.

Tarika also use the instrument on a number of ther songs.

Not a collaboration, per se, but Lars Hollmer has created a work for the festival based on a South African theme.

Djanbutu Thiossane are an ensemble from Senegal who currently live in Spain. They have incorporated the accordion of Wafir Shekheldin into an interesting blend of cross references from Africa and the Basque country.

John Whelan has blended his Irish buttonbox with the kalimba of Samite Mulundo of Uganda

Listen to these and others in our Juke Box

The 1999 Archive

These links will lead you to articles in RootsWorld, and then to further adventures around the world. If you get lost, just click on the accordion or use the back button to return to the menus.

IK Dairo: The juju master of Nigeria
Regis Gizavo of Madagascar
Troupe Abdallah show some of the Muslim influences of Madagascar
Kode di Dona plays the funana of Cape Verde
Nganezlyamfisa No Khambalomvaleliso was part of the indestructible beat of South Africa
In 1962 they called it Squashbox in South Africa


More Roots:
African Music on RootsWorld
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