Clearly I'm not inspired to write about software at the moment, so instead, I think I'll use this blog to supplement my increasingly creaky memory and record my thoughts on things I see.
I just got back from holiday in South Africa (fantastic, thanks for asking) but while there I saw Toumani Diabate and Wanlov the Kubulor perform as part of a Cape Town "musical intervention" called, rather splendidly, the Pan-African Space Station.
Toumani D. is a relatively familiar name, but first, the support... Wanlov come from Ghana and comprise vocals, balafon, shekere, djembe, one string bass, some sort of lute, trumpet, box drum and various other bits of percussion. All this plus quirky lyrics ranging from jokey love song through full on political stuff, and a rather magnetic lead singer. I really enjoyed this gig, lots of fun. The CD isn't quite as good as the live band, it has a rather westernised or manufactured feel compared to the loose and swinging live band. 8/10 for the gig.
Toumani Diabate plays solo on the Kora (a 21 string African harp). He gave us a quick explanation of the instrument: you have two thumbs to play the bass, one index finger to play the melody, and the other index finger to "improvise". He's a spell-binding master. Most of his songs last ten minutes and it often feels like that isn't long enough. It puts you in mind of someone like Sonny Rollins playing solos: he establishes a theme and then plays endless variations on it, drifting away before returning, but never losing the structure. 10/10: I'd watch him f ive times a week if he played in my street.
A word about the venue: the Slave Church Museum in Cape Town was at full capacity of a few hundred, the acoustics were excellent, and this may have swelled the scores I've given both acts.