LONDON Ronnie Scott’s
47 Frith Street, Soho
Now one of Mali’s musical elders, Salif Keita’s album Soro was one of the records that really broke African music in the UK in the late ’80s. Formerly the vocalist with the legendary supergroup Les Ambassadeurs, his golden voice retains the power to both thrill and chill in equal measure.
Keita's latest (and final) album was released in October last year to critical acclaim:
'Salif Keita, the most adventurous, gloriously soulful male singer-songwriter in Africa, has decided to retire at 69 – at least from recording. This is his 14th studio album, and, he says, his last, after an extraordinary career in which he has transformed the music of the continent. Since his days with Mali’s legendary Rail Band, his solo work has included everything from the electronica and keyboard-backed breakthrough solo set Soro in 1987, to less happy jazz funk albums, exquisite semi-acoustic sets Moffou and M’Bemba, and a collaboration with Gotan Project’s Philippe Cohen Solal, who produced his last offering, Talé, six years ago. The title of this final album translates as Another White, in reference to his early struggles as an albino musician (also the theme of his 2009 album La Différence). Although it includes the autobiographical Lerou Lerou, it is dominated by praise songs – to God, mothers, hunters and … a friend who gave him a plane.
What makes Un Autre Blanc distinctive and special is Keita’s vocal work. He is on compelling form throughout, from the soaring, pained anti-war song Syrie to the magnificent Tiranke, on which he switches from thoughtful passages to bursts of controlled power, with backing provided by ngoni and his own acoustic guitar. If this truly is his last recording, he’ll be badly missed'. (Robin Denselow, The Guardian)