Known for its awesome guitarists & kora players, Mali puts out a ton of amazing music for such a remote place. A multitude of marvelous musicians keep their traditional playing & singing going strong, as they modernize it and borrow from abroad too.
Mali’s guitar players are world class! African musicians in general deftly internalize a multitude of rhythms from their own cultures, as well as from abroad. The music of Mali keeps evolving as it moves into the future with a firm foundation in its past.
Listen to this playlist because it highlights the best of Mali’s older generation of musicians, alongside the current musicians from Mali that continue to take the music out into the world and push the envelope. And, hear Western bands & producers that honor Malian music tradition — mixing it with American music, as well as re-mixing it for global dance floors. Plus, watch a couple of stunning live videos from extremely talented Malian musicians…
See an amazing full performance by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, showing off all of their exotic instruments (and having a lot of fun!).
Inspiring, Magnificent Mali Music
West Africa To Cuba & The American South
A Guitar Virtuoso’s Legacy
New Mali Music In New York City
Rocking Mali Music Into The Future
Gambari Band is an off-shoot of Ngoni Ba. Their 2016 album, Kokuma, is a crisp mix of acoustic sounds in which each voice inhabits a distinct place in the sonic tableau…and the ngoni & exotic calabash percussion instruments resound in full force.
Mali Music Mash-Up
Then, listen to San Francisco’s DJ Pleasuremaker remixing the great kora player, Issa Bagayogo, from the Six Degrees Records release, Issa Remixed. And, then he gives us a “Dub For Mali,” a modern Mali mashup from his band, Afrolicious.
Six Degrees of Mali Music
I can thank Six Degrees Records for getting me into Malian music with their releases from Issa Bagayogo and Vieux Farka Toure. These albums perfectly demonstrate the label’s dedication to creating marvelous musical hybrids by fusing traditional forms with electronic elements, and first-rate modern production.
Check Vieux Farka Touré’s 2017 album, Samba. “It was not a regular studio session nor was it a concert,” Touré says. “It was somewhere in between. We were recording the album, but we had an audience of about fifty people in the room with us. The audience understood it was to witness the process of recording an album, not to present a concert in a studio, which was a very good thing because we got the energy of a live concert with the quality of a studio recording.”
Fans of Touré will rejoice at the quality and energy of this fantastic record. His solos are exceptional. The hypnotic grooves his band creates allows him to let loose with a sense of ease and grace. “Samba Si Kairi” is a perfect example. A song about his parents, it reflects the larger narrative of the album’s title.
Samba means “second born,” his place in his family, which of course was to legendary Malian artist Ali Farka Touré. While many cultures award the head position of a family to the first-born, it is the second child often conferred with power in Touré’s tradition. “Samba Si Kairi” is an old tune his grandfather would sing to Touré as a child, who would respond by dancing.
“Samba is one who never breaks, who never runs from threats, who is not afraid,” Touré says. “It is said that Samba is blessed with good luck. This song is an homage to my grandparents, who gave me a nice childhood.”
Watch & listen to Vieux Farka Touré’s full performance live on KEXP in Seattle, hear his new songs from Samba & listen to him talk about their origin…
Six Degrees Records produces and markets accessible, genre-bending records that explore world music traditions, modern dance grooves, and electronic music. The label’s catchphrase, “everything is closer than you think,” is a real reflection of Six Degrees’ commitment to different styles of music that appeal to a curious and increasingly sizable audience. Their records really opened my musical horizons. Check ’em out.
Listen to several of the best albums from Six Degrees’
collection of Mali music releases…
AfroPop Worldwide Takes You To The Best Music From Mali
- Check out this episode dedicated to current Mali music (and with another Mali music playlist from them).
- Listen to their original Hip Deep show all about Mali music…
- And then, in Part 2 hear the recent follow up that discusses how the current Mali music scene is flourishing again after an awful civil war.
- Listen to this Afropop Worldwide podcast about unlikely influences on African guitarists.
There is also a ton of great Mali music on Spotify for when you want to dig deep for something exotic, unique, universally appealing, and full of killer guitar licks. Just follow the recommendations in the comments below…
These are some exotic, soulful grooves — enchanting, fascinating, and accessible Malian music you can’t resist! They’re thoroughly modern sounds, based on traditional rhythms & instruments — hardly boring folkloric music. This goes for all the amazing musicians in this Spotify playlist who I haven’t mentioned here. Listen & be impressed!
Whenever you want to hear something awesome, unusual, and thoroughly entertaining — refer back to this Spotify playlist and give it a listen — then dig a little deeper into the marvelous music of Mali.
Check out Vieux Farka Toure jamming at a festival in a gorgeous Oregon forest…
Listening to this Mali music, starring such impressive guitarists, is great motivation for any guitar player. Click here to see why Guitar Tricks gives the best online guitar lessons, and start learning to play guitar today.