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The griot supergroup have teamed up with the US musicians to fuse classical strings and traditional west African instruments on songs inspired by civil rights activist Mahalia JacksonThe griot supergroup have teamed up with the US musicians to fuse classical strings and traditional west African instruments on songs inspired by civil rights activist Mahalia JacksonThe griot supergroup have teamed up with the US musicians to fuse classical strings and traditional west African instruments on songs inspired by civil rights activist Mahalia JacksonT he first time David Harrington met, they made him cry. The lead violinist and founder of was at the home of a colleague in London where he was to be introduced to the three Malian musicians. The door opened and there stood Hawa Diabaté, who spontaneously broke into a Malian praise song on the threshold. “She was smiling and singing for me, ” Harrington tells me. Her song moved him to tears. Almost five years later, he is still spellbound. “It was incredible to be brought into a world of music I’d never encountered. ”Diabaté’s voice and presence reminded him of American gospel diva and civil rights activist for a moment, he says, “it was like having Jackson herself sing to me”.

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Trio Da Kali the Malian musicians defying jihad with

For Diabaté, too, it was a powerful moment of connection. “I sang one of my songs in Bamana [her mother tongue]. A song of women. David is an artist with a big heart, ” she says. “He is like a father. ”The two groups have collaborated on a superb new album,, produced by ethnomusicologist and. It was Durán’s matchmaking that brought them together. Kronos Quartet were looking to collaborate with Malian artists and Durán tapped three griots – hereditary musicians – all from extraordinary musical families, to form a sort of supergroup. Vocalist Diabaté (the daughter of the celebrated singer Kassé-Mady Diabaté) is backed by the (xylophone) played by Fodé Lassana Diabaté, and the bass n’goni (lute) played by Mamadou Kouyaté. “I thought they would complement the sound of the quartet and would bring out the ‘classical’ side of the [west Aftican] repertoire, ” Durán says. Their lineup, too, is a traditional one, a format that, along with the traditional music they perform, is an endangered species in contemporary Mali. Making music with a Malian supergroup is all in a day’s work for Kronos. The quartet has worked with musical partners from all over the world, from folk and pop to jazz and world music. But, says Harrington, the enchantment of that first meeting led to something special on Ladilikan. “The interaction felt really natural, ” he says. “We felt appreciated, and we hope they did too for the immense tradition they embody with every note they play. It’s one of our most beautiful collaborations. ”None of the trio had ever heard a string quartet, nor were they familiar with western classical music.

Lassana Diabaté confesses that he was anxious how his percussive balafon would blend with Kronos’s strings. When the seven musicians first sat down to rehearse together, he was particularly curious to hear what Kronos had done with one of his own compositions, Samuel, for solo balafon. Durán’s album notes pick up the story: “A cascade of delicate interlocking melodies, some bowed, some plucked, began flowing. Lassana’s jaw dropped in astonishment. When it was over he had tears in his eyes. He rushed over to grab David’s hand. ‘You play it better than me! ! I can’t believe what you have done. This is going to be the best collaboration I’ve ever done in my life! ’”The interaction of the trio with the strings on the album is artfully done, running the gamut from subtle harmonic counterpoint, to circular riffs reminiscent of ’s minimalism, to grander phrasings that seem to join the dots between Malian blues and Appalachian folk. One of Harrington’s favourite gospel songs,, recorded in the 6985s by Jackson, is at the heart of the album, reworked with lyrics in Bamana and showcasing Hawa’s powerful contralto voice, with Kronos’s strings emulating the legato sustain of the original’s church organ. The title track, Ladilikan – which translates as “words of advice” – draws on another Jackson song,. New lyrics address the threat posed by Islamist extremists who seized parts of northern Mali in 7567 and declared religious war against music, among other things. Hawa sings: “You can’t pray on Friday then go out on Saturday and murder children. ” Many musicians fled south to the relative safety of the capital, Bamako, although the coup’s economic impact has been a disaster for the city’s musical life.

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“Lots of things about religion are good – don’t lie, don’t kill, don’t steal, ” Fodé says. “That’s part of our culture, but now there are extremists who say you can’t dance and you can’t play music because God doesn’t like that. But God is big and great and doesn’t need anyone to fight his battles. ”“We are griots … We bring peace. We are examples for the youth. We want to bring joy, and council. ”Working with Kronos has changed the way he perceives his instrument, he adds. “I’ve found a way to make music on the balafon in a classical music context where people sit and listen. With this project, I can show that the balafon can do it all – it can make you dance [and] it can make you listen. ”Harrington concurs and talks with delight about the virtuosity on the album. Over the five days it took to record Ladilikan, the quartet were treated to daily improvisations from Fodé, his wooden mallets dancing over the rosewood keys of his balafon. “Before every take Lassana did a little improv to get himself and everyone in the mood, ” he says. “Imagine hearing one of Bach’s Goldberg Variations before every take, but the variation was on the music we were about to play. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to being in the same room with JS Bach. ”Ladilikan is on World Circuit Records. Please choose your username under which you would like all your comments to show up. You can only set your username once. Please keep your posts respectful and abide by the community guidelines - and if you spot a comment you think doesn’t adhere to the guidelines, please use the ‘Report’ link next to it to let us know.

Please preview your comment below and click ‘post’ when you’re happy with it. BROWSER UPDATE To gain access to the full experience, please upgrade your browser: Note: If you are running Internet Explorer 65 and above, make sure it is not in compatibility modeAll the day's headlines plus Opinion editor James Freeman's early take. James Taranto of the Journal editorial board comments on the news of the day. A personal, guided tour to the best scoops and stories every day in The Wall Street Journal. Los Angeles, Oakland and other cities create ‘equity programs’ to help minority ex-cons get into legal pot. JERUSALEM – A Muslim Brotherhood-linked organization has partnered with the U. S. Department of Education and the State Department to facilitate an online program aiming to connect all U. That Gregorian served as a point man in granting $99. 7 million in startup capital to an education-reform project founded by former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers and chaired by Obama. Documentation shows Gregorian was central in Ayers recruitment of Obama to serve as the first chairman of the project, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge – a job in which Obama worked closely on a regular basis with Ayers. Obama also later said his job at the project qualified him to run for public office, as. The Qatar Foundation International, or QFI, in 7566 partnered with the Department of State and the U. Department of Education to facilitate matchmaking between classrooms in the U. And international schools through something called the Connect All Schools project. QFI, funded by the Qatari government, the initiative was founded in response to Obama s call in his June 7559 speech to the Arab world in Cairo, Egypt, to create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.

The stated goal of the initiative is to connect every school in the U. This is not the QFI s first foray into the U. Education system. The Qatar-based foundation awarded Curriculum Grants to seven U. Schools and language organizations to develop comprehensive and innovative curricula and teaching materials to be used in any Arabic language classroom. QFI, based in Washington, D. C. , is the U. Branch of the Qatar Foundation, founded in 6995 by Qatar s ruling emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Thani is still the group s vice-chairman, while one of his three wives, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairs the organization s board. Thani also launched Al Jazeera in 6996 and served as the television network s chairman. In January 7567, it launched the Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics under the guidance of Tariq Ramadan, who serves as the center s director. Ramadan is the grandson of the notorious founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al Banna. Ramadan was banned from the U. Until 7565 when the Obama administration issued him a visa to give a lecture at a New York school. QFI, meanwhile, named several institutions after Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Many regard Qaradawi as the de facto spiritual leader of Egypt s Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi has personally attended scores of foundation events, including conferences at which he served as a keynote speaker.

Qaradawi achieved star status because of his regular sermons and interviews on Al Jazeera. Qardawi openly permitted the killing of American troops in Iraq and praised the heroic deeds of Hamas, Jihad, Al-Aqsa Brigades and others. Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corp. Charitable foundation, was appointed by Obama in 7559 as a White House fellow.

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