Album Liner Notes 'Mali Latino' AWCD7 (released 11th Oct 2010)
In 2004, I took a reckless decision to spend all my touring money on recording a song with two musicians I had only just met. They were vocalist Kandia Kouyaté and kora player Madou Sidiki
Diabaté and they simply knocked me off my feet with their music.
This is how Mali Latino was conceived - with the song Remercier les Travailleurs - once the door to the world of Mandé music opened to me there was no turning back.
Madou kept in contact from Mali but it was not until 2008 when I was offered a composer residency at Aldeburgh Music before I was able to set the wheels of this project in motion. Once again, I spent my much needed gig money on travelling to Mali to pave the way to invite Madou and one other musician back to the UK.
I travelled to Africa looking for a vocalist but came back having met a wonderful musician Ahmed Fofana, convinced he was the third collaborator. The three of us started intense work in the august environment of Aldeburgh. The fireworks flew and after an intense week we had an album's worth of material ready.
Aldeburgh Music got behind the project and invited us back for a premiere in May 09. We added vocals, trombones and percussion to create the lavish collision of Afro-Latin and Mandé music we heard in our heads.
With no record company support for a project such as this, how were we to record the album? I found a private investor who committed to paying all the costs and got a good deal at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios.
It was imperative that we recorded in May; the indignities and uncertainties endured by the Malian musicians in procuring legal entry to the UK were a shocking eye opener for us all and not to be repeated unnecessarily.
So we hurtled over from Suffolk to Wiltshire .. but as the magic was recorded on to tape the terrible news came through that the investor was pulling out, leaving me in huge debt.
I was in real trouble and put everything on hold.
Eventually thanks to the help of some smaller investors and with the support of Steve Winwood, James Towler, the hard work of my manager Peter's team and under the guidance of Lucy Duran I was able to get this album produced and able to realize our dream of bringing this music to the world.
So, on behalf of Madou Sidiki Diabaté, who belongs to his family's 71st generation of kora players, Ahmed Fofana, the multi instrumentalist and veritable dictionary of West African styles and myself on the piano we hope you enjoy the result of our travails ... our sound, which is Mali Latino.