seven “World of Africa” favorites in 2022
every Wednesday, World Africa highlights three new music releases from or inspired by the continent. To round off 2022, this week we’re offering you our pick of seven of our most tantalizing albums, listed here in chronological order of publication.
“Tasweerah” by Jawhar
The soft, warm voice, which descends in Arabic – and sometimes in English – the entire melancholy palette through a series of frosty frames sketches the artist’s personal and universal portrait. With his fourth album, Tasweerah, released in March, Tunisian guitarist and singer Jawhar offers airy and intimate pop-folk, all in chiaroscuro, between swirls of smoke and beams of light. Born in 1974 and raised in Radès, on the outskirts of Tunis, Jawhar Basti left his country at the age of 20 to study in Lille, before settling in Belgium – where he still lives.
A shy young man, whom we can easily compare today to the British musician Nick Drake (1948-1974) turned to the theater to express his emotions, before then starting “scratch the guitar a little”. Well he took it, because of this Tasweerah (which can be translated as “image” in Arabic), a rough diamond with a fine shine, contains twelve poetic delights that are a pity to deprive.
“Jose Louis and the Paradoxes of Love”, by Pierre Kwenders
“I like going against the norm”, stated Pierre Kwenders in 2020 during release gentleness Class, Duet EP with French steel pot player Clément Bazin. Two years later, his third album, José Louis and the Paradoxes of Love, was released in April, confirming that it is difficult to lock down the singer, songwriter and DJ who was born in Kinshasa in 1985 and has lived in Montreal since 2001.
With his suave voice, the one who charted the scales in the Catholic choir – before hosting a worldwide Afro-electronic night with the collective Moonshine – distills without complex sensual melodies that the most languid Congolese rum singers (including Papa Wemba) would envy. , to whom he dedicates a piece) on alternately yawning and scintillating layers of synths and loud Afropop rhythms. Everything in many languages from French to Lingala via English, Tshiluba and Kikongo. Exhilarating, and definitely unclassifiable.
“Folklore Chapter 1”, by Pilani Bubu
Her clear voice and smooth compositions won her the 2020 award for best “contemporary African album for adults” at the South African Music Awards. It was about paying tribute to the album folklore Chapter 1, was released in 2019 in its home country and on CD three years later in France – along with its seven-song EP Locking Love Story, only available digitally.
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Born in 1984 in Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape province, Pilani Bubu, also known as a presenter of television programs devoted to interior design, decoration and architecture, defines himself as a “indelible storyteller”, while his music presents itself as a folk fusion born of South Africa’s traditional heritage and his travels around the world. Filled with positive vibes, the songs are sung in Xhosa, Mpondo, Zulu and English, where you can hear the characteristic “click” of the local language, but sometimes tackle difficult themes such as domestic violence.
“Sultan” by Alune Wade
This is, without a doubt, our favorite of the year. released in May, Sultan, The fifth album by Senegalese bassist and composer Alune Wade, is an Afrojazz pearl that takes listeners on a journey from the highlands of Ethiopia to the sand dunes of the Sahara, summoning and blending with great mastering styles as diverse as Afrobeat, Sufi song, Arabic-Andalusian or Ethiojazz music.
Mystical and enchanting, the record also owes its prominence to the quality of its guests, including Tunisian singer Mounir Troudi, Moroccan multi-instrumentalist Aziz Sahmaoui – with whom Alune Wade founded the University of Gnawa group –, Cuban pianist Harold Lopez- Nussa or Mauritanian singer Noura Mint Seymali . Born in 1978 in Dakar and based in Sartrouville, in the Paris region, former bassist Ismaël Lo shifts in this work the whole imagination between Africa and the East, as evidenced by the titles of the twelve works: Saba’s Journey, Moorish Portraits, Djolof Blues, Café Oran… Expert.
“Inheritance”, by Kolinga
A mix of soul, jazz, hip-hop, folk and rock, without forgetting the more or less firm touch of Congo rum. This is the strong cocktail that Kolinga offers on his albums legacy, released in September. Led by singer, composer and pianist Rébecca M’Boungou, born in France to a singing father from Congo-Brazzaville and a mother who was the first white dancer to join the national congolais of the Ballet, this Bayonne-based French group brings together Jérôme Martineau- Ricotti (drums, piano, guitar), Arnaud Estor (guitar), Nico Martin (bass), Jérémie Poirier-Quinot (keyboards, flute) and Vianney Desplantes (trombone).
Together, they put together a disc, sung in English, French and Lingala, drawn from its roots “black music” and want to be “ode to creoleness, to the cultural and musical rich of interbreeding”. Among the pieces that marked us especially, Ghost is one of those whose melodies tend to haunt you for a long time…
“Guramayle”, from Fleas
Do you know “ethio-trance”? That’s how the group Flea defines its music, which was unveiled in September in the form of an album titled carp, after roaming many concert halls during a naked performance. Fleas is a reunion of French jazz violinist Théo Ceccaldi and Ethiopian singer Gebrewold Animals and Halleluya Tekletsadik, formerly of the rock group Jano Band, joined by drummer Cyril Atef, bassist Valentin Ceccaldi and keyboardist Akemi Fujimori.
Over ten tracks from this bold masterpiece recorded between Addis Ababa and Orléans, they mix tribal rhythms, vocal flight, rock energy, jazz improvisation, and electro madness. We are under the charm of this amazing and explosive fusion “azmari bet” (traditional music club in Ethiopia) and Parisian underground, and we can only suggest you go and find a group in concert – for example on March 31 at the Radio Meuh Circus Festival in La Clusaz (Haute-Savoie).
“Ibio-Ibio”, by Camilla George
To round off this choice, head to London, where the afrojazz scene never ceases to surprise and tempt us. After the success of Kokoroko, Sons of Kemet or Neue Graph Ensemble, we must now consider Camilla George, who released her third album in September, the excellent Ibio-Ibio. Born in Eket, southeastern Nigeria, the saxophonist describes this recording as a “root celebration” and dedicating it to the ibibio community in their homeland.
Thus, the work opens with the work Creation – Abasi and Atai, in which rapper Sanity returns to the founding myth of the Ibibio people by Abasi, the god of the universe, and his wife Atai, the goddess of mediation. Between jazz, afrobeat and hip-hop, these eight inspiring titles featured many guests parading, including trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey (leader of Kokoroko), American drummer Daru Jones (who distinguished himself in particular alongside rappers Pete Rock and Talib Kweli) or the Senegalese kora player Kadialy Kouyaté.
Find all the editorial staff’s favorite music in YouTube playlists World Africa.