Blog June 25, 2020
Exclusive: Duende Libre Brings West Africa to the West Coast

The Seattle jazz outfit Duende Libre is set to release its third album, The Dance She Spoke, on July 17, and in anticipation, Afropop is premiering the track “Fefo (Hamana)” right here.

Check it out:


The group has always been open to influence from Latin and Afro-Caribbean music, but with the addition of Frank Anderson, they're taking it to the next level. Anderson studied djembe with Famoudou Konate and dance with Nakani Kouyate in the borderlands of Guinea and Mali. Kouyate suggested that he make singing an additional part of his practice. And Anderson isn't the only one with a mind to West Africa. Vocalist Chava Mirel studied West African dance with Anderson.

“In Maninka-speaking areas, every dance opens with a ‘call to dance,’ what we in the West would call a song,” Anderson explains. “Those songs, dances, and rhythms are all connected, you can’t have one without the other.”

Senegalese percussionist Thione Diop lends the group his tama skills, playing the Senegalese talking drum on the track “Echoes (Wassoulou),” which was built on a soboninkun rhythm.

They may be making their videos separated by quarantine, but the call to dance rings out all the same.

The Dance She Spoke can be preordered here.

Top image by Olli Tumelius


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