Takamba is a music and dance style played by the Tamashek (Tuareg) and Songhai people of the West African sahel. Ali Farka Touré used to say it was his favorite style of music, and we can understand why. Takamba builds around a complex, two-part rhythmic structure that neatly blends 4/4 and 6/8 time.
Al Bilali Soudan and his three accompanists are absolute masters of takamba, and other styles of the region as well, and now, after numerous pandemic-era delays, they have finally begun their first U.S. tour.
We saw the group at Joe’s Pub in New York in their first performance on Sept. 14, and it was exquisite. Soudan’s two albums (Al Bilali Soudan and Tombouctou, both on Clermont Records) are both highly recommended, but there is nothing like seeing this group live. Hypnotic. Seductive. Mind-blowing. Words fail. The interplay between the two tehardent lutes and the calabash is on a level all its own, mesmerizing to watch.
If you can catch any of these shows, don’t miss the chance. It’s been a long time coming, and you never know if it will happen again.
Afropop Worldwide will meet this group at WOMEX in Lisbon in October, 2022, and record an exclusive session and interview. For now, here are some images Banning Eyre shot at the Joe’s Pub show.