Video

Ngoni Master Bassekou Kouyate Returns With 'Desert Nianafing'

To honor the upcoming Malian concert, Festival au Desert, Ngoni player Bassekou Kouyate shares a new track and accompanying video, "Desert Nianafing."

Bassekou-Kouyaté-Desert-Nianafing-Video

In anticipation of Festival au Desert, the Malian concert that will make its return in 2015, ngoni pioneer Bassekou Kouyate shares this new single and its accompanying video for "Desert Nianafing." Translating to "longing for the desert," the song arose from a sense of yearning for Kouyate. According to Outhere Records, the conflict in Northern Mali had reached a poignant apex where ethnic differences were seen as the cause, and Kouyate wanted to write a piece that both brought people together and honored the desert in general. Featuring vocalists/guitarists Ahmed Ag Kaedi, whose life was endangered during the crisis, and Afel Bocoum, a former collaborator of Ali Farka Toure, as well as Kouyate's wife Amy Sacko, the track is a slow-moving yarn of tumbling strings with Kouyate's ngoni mastery at its core. The visuals for the song compliment its warm, triumphant nature and show the artists playing in a town of smiling children amidst wide shots of the desert. Listen to "Desert Nianafing" and watch its video below. Find out more information about the upcoming Festival au Desert at their website.


Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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