Photo: Hugo Glendinning & Gavin Rodgers.

Listen to Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela's New Song 'Slow Bones'

Premiere: The Nigerian and South African legend come together in this new single from their upcoming album Rejoice, the first post-humous release from Masekela.

Nigerian afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen and South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela began recording together in 2010.

Though they'd known each other since the 1970s, through their friendship & work with Fela, it took forty years—and a coinciding tour schedule that saw them both in the UK at the same time—for Allen and Masekela to make it to a London studio together.

It was there that, along with producer Nick Gold, they recorded the "kind of South African-Nigerian swing-jazz stew" that will make up their upcoming album, Rejoice, as Allen describes it.

Those recording sessions remained largely untouched until after Masekela's passing in 2018, which drove Allen and Gold to revisit the tapes of those original compositions with the aim of finishing their now ten-year-old project.

Today we're premiering the latest single from the album, "Slow Bones," a head-nodding blend of Allen's afrobeat percussion and Masekela's trumpet melodies. "I don't know why this track is called 'Slow Bones.' Hugh came up with all the song titles while we were recording in 2010, and we've left them exactly as he wrote them down," Tony Allen tells OkayAfrica.

Keep reading...
Photo by Paul CHARBIT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

Ballaké Sissoko Speaks About US Customs Breaking His Kora

In a new interview with OkayAfrica, the Malian musician tells us about the value of his custom-made kora. "It takes many hours to get the precious sound... the quality of a traditional instrument is very different."

You can now donate to a GoFundMe for Ballaké Sissoko started by his label No Format.

Malian musician Ballaké Sissoko has been asking U.S. customs for answers following the notable damage to his kora following his American tour.

According to Sissoko, upon arriving in Paris and opening his luggage, he found a leaflet from US customs officials which stated that they had opened the instrument's case for inspection purposes. However, the leaflet said nothing about the disassembly of the instrument itself.

"The strings, bridge and entire, delicate and complex sound system of amplification has been taken apart," Sissoko has mentioned. "Even if all the components that have been disassembled were intact, it takes weeks before a kora of this calibre can return to its previous state of resonance. These kinds of custom-made koras are simply impossible to replace. In Mali, the jihadists threaten to destroy musical instruments, cut the tongues out of singers, and silence Mali's great musical heritage. And yet, ironically, it is the USA customs that have in their own way managed to do this."

Sissoko is a contemporary master of the kora who rose to fame in 1999 after featuring on fellow kora player Toumani Diabaté's album New Ancient Strings. The following year,he released his debut solo album, Déli, which features his wife and vocalist Mama Draba, among several other musicians.

The T.S.A. recently issued a statement denying that it opened Sissoko's case.

We spoke to the Malian artist below about this ordeal.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Keep reading...

get okayafrica in your inbox