Malian/French & Kenyan/German music collaborations featured in YouTube!

Recommended by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi

Ogoya Nengo & Sven Kacirek perform Dear Anastasia

Ogoya Nengo: vocal
Sven Kacirek: music
Agnieszka Krzeminska: video

Track from the album The Kenya Sessions (Pingipung/Kompakt, Release date: February 21, 2011)
More Information: and

Excerps from tnterview with Sven Kacirek about the project at the audiovoltaics digital music culture:

The dream became reality in Spring 2009. “We made two journeys, one to the Lake Victoria, another one to the east coast of Kenya”, Sven says, “and we found two completely different cultures and musical traditions. The east is deeply influenced by Islam, which let to a kind of oriental music with lots of flutes. The music in the area of Lake Victoria is very different on the contrary. Finding these two different cultures made the whole project extremely interesting.”

To keep records of the idea and the travel, Kacirek was accompanied by Digital Media designer Agnieszka Krzeminska, who shot the videos of the recording sessions and also developed a website for the project. Both found what they were looking for initially: “The further you go away from the big cities like Nairobi and Mombasa, the more traditional the music gets, and we were able to experience a music culture which is getting more and more forgotten even in Africa”, Sven explains.

A Different Beat
The initial idea of the trained drummer and percussionist was to primarily record vocals and chants while being in Kenya. But his plans were changed by reality: “The traditional musicians usually do not separate their singing from their instruments and couldn’t even imagine doing so. Someone playing the Nyatiti, a guitar-like African instrument, always sings above the melody he plays. If you’d ask him to play his instrument only, he just wouldn’t see the point in doing so”, Kacirek laughs.


Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal play Mama FC

Cellos on the Niger, koras on the Seine: chamber music discovers unexpected strains of African lyricism and European Funk. 

When kora-player Ballaké Sissoko approached French cellist Vincent Ségal after a show, Ségal never suspected that he’d find himself several years later on the banks of the Niger, digging into African music’s introspective side with a virtuosic Malian bard. He never imagined that the curious duo would discover striking similarities in their music and lives, creating a free space for cross-cultural creativity based on deep commonalities.

“We’re the same age,” Ségal notes, explaining the wide swath of common ground the two unlikely collaborators share. “We have the same kind of family, a son and daughter. We have the same way of life, playing these quiet instruments passionately. I’ve spent time with many musicians – from Sting to avant guitarist Marc Ribot – but it’s not the same as it is with Ballaké.”Chamber Music (Six Degrees Records; January 11, 2011), recorded in the subdued atmosphere of Salif Keita’s Mouffou Studio on the Niger River in Bamako, Mali, has a natural flow, yet brims with the subtlety of two masterful artists working in warm concert.

Sissoko learned the deep-rooted poetry and music of the djeli (Bambara for “griot”) from his father and grandfather, taking on the traditional role of historian, praise singer, and bard. Yet even before befriending Ségal, Sissoko reveled in innovation. He pursued challenging collaborations with blues greats (Taj Mahal) and Italian minimalist composers (Ludovico Einaudi, with whom he performed at the Festival in the Desert in 2008). 

Along the same lines, Ségal was rigorously trained as a classical cellist-he’s a former player with the Orchestra Nationale de France-as a musician destined for a technically demanding role in Europe’s art tradition. Yet an influential early teacher encouraged him to pursue his fascination with African, Latin, and rock sounds, and to dig into other music outside the narrow confine of classical. He’s now frequently seen brandishing a funky electric cello as part of the trip-hop project, Bumcello, or laying down tracks for everyone from Cesaria Evora to Blackalicious.  

They also turned to local musicians to add other musical elements, including stirring vocals: as a tribute to Sissoko’s late singer friend Kader Berry, they worked with the broadly talented Malian-born, Ivorian-based singer Awa Sangho (“Regret”).