Khaira Arby (Mali), live, Mali (Festival of the Desert), 2010
Scribblings from the show (habit picked up reviewing live jazz for the Chicago Reader):
Kenge Kenge’s bass player at the start of their set: “We’ve been in America for the last three months. This is our last show. And we want to have some fun.”
Drum is king.
As much as I appreciate the musical experiences available via the ’net, they’re no substitute for live music. Among the casualties of the technological filtering are bass and drums—this music’s heartbeat.
This stage isn’t a dividing line. It’s porous, readily penetrable in both directions. Those onstage come down and dance; those offstage go up and dance. When everybody’s dancing—onstage, offstage—the performer/audience line dissolves.
African music, live, is a full-body experience: you listen not just with your ears but with your hips, your feet.
If folks aren’t dancing, this music ain’t happening.
At times the dancers look as if they’re in a trance.
Lightness, buoyancy, drive: this is music that takes you in its arms, lifts you up, carries you away.