Kaira Kora Afrika
Mosi Conde's debut album Kaira Kora Afrika, with his band of the same name, was released in 2010 in the UK. A griot (an oral historian, educator, musician and story teller found in many West African traditions) from Guinea Conakry, Conde is now based in London and has in the past already performed for Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton, as well as at major festivals including WOMAD.
Kaira Kora Afrika is best described as strongly rooted in traditional West African music, informed by contemporary world music. From its first bar onwards already, this album is a complete delight. The musicianship and virtuosity of all the musicians is of the highest calibre throughout, and Conde's kora and balafon in particular are a dream. Vocalist Saba Tewelde also needs particular singling out for excellence, as does flautist Baba Galle Kante.
If you're looking for West African music informed by world music, yet preserving authenticity, look no further. Kaira Kora Afrika is the real deal. Mosi Conde is without doubt the finest and most exciting West African musician it has been my pleasure to hear in a long time.
From irresistible grooves to more reflective, ballad-like numbers, Kaira Kora Afrika has it all. At just over 39 minutes, this album may seem a little short on playing time, but it more than makes up for this in the sheer quality of the music. This even makes you completely overlook the (only marginally) less than perfect recording quality.
The exuberance of this music is catching, and its honest-to-goodness sincerity impressive and touching. Kaira Kora Afrika is utterly enchanting and charming, fresh and refreshing, and the blend of the traditional with the contemporary feels natural, organic, unforced and free of pretense and pretentiousness. Conde's brand of music doesn't try to be something, it simply is, like all truly great music.
It would be hard to imagine a more consistent album than this. Rather than merely compelling, Kaira Kora Afrika is utterly mesmerising and spellbinding, totally infectious. I could happily listen to this music for days on end, and it's destined to be a firm favourite here for a very long time to come.
If there is one point of criticism, it is the sleeve notes. The odd fonts and largely too small print make these difficult to read.
Although it will hardly need pointing out, Mosi Conde's Kaira Kora Afrika is way past essential in any good world music collection, not just specifically of African or West African music. It is only to be hoped that it will receive the much wider distribution it so richly deserves and needs. And furthermore, that we'll see another album from Mosi Conde & Kaira Kora Afrika soon! In the meantime, try and catch these fabulous musicians live.
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