3 generations of African genius to visit Howard Assembly Room
A highlight of the Howard Assembly Room’s Winter 2016 season, the 3 Generations series celebrates the richness of African music across the breadth of the continent from January 30, with performances from Cheikh Lô, Vieux Farka Touré and Mulatu Astatke, plus an African Drumming Workshop for younger visitors.
Now an elder statesman of West African music, Cheikh Lô opens the series with a live set of his unique, eclectic and appropriately pan-African music on Saturday 30 January. Having performed Cuban and Congolese pop songs as well as traditional Burkinabé music in his youth in Burkina Faso, Lô moved to his parents’ native country of Senegal in 1978, where Cameroonian makossa, reggae and mbalax (Senegalese dance music) were added to his rich palette. A later stint as a session musician in Paris included drumming for the legendary Papa Wemba, which brought Congolese soukous into the mix. Lô’s latest album, last year’s Balbalou, has been hailed as a creative peak, showing all of these influences and more, and with his ever-soulful vocals taking centre stage.
There’s more musical alchemy from West Africa on Thursday 4 February with the globe-trotting and genre-bending Malian blues of “Hendrix of the Sahara” Vieux Farka Touré, the son of the late, legendary Ali Farka Touré. From the blistering electric desert blues for which he is best known, through the acoustic elegance of his 2013 album Mon Pays, to his recent collaboration with US indie singer Julia Easterlin, Vieux has shown the same restless, questing musical spirit as his father. He will be joined by a bass player and drummer for his Leeds show, moving between searing power trio rock and haunting introspection with astonishing accomplishment.
Most venerable among the inspirational musicians in the season is the founding father of Ethio-jazz, vibraphonist and Éthiopiques legend Mulatu Astatke. His distinctive meshing of the rhythms of his East African homeland with arrangements reminiscent of his friend Duke Ellington can be heard in an extremely rare live performance on Wednesday 10 February. Shot through with Astatke’s music, Jim Jarmusch’s deadpan comedy Broken Flowers is screened in honour of the musician on 26 February.
Finally, on Saturday 12 March an African Drumming Workshop gives young people the chance to learn the basics of African rhythms in an energetic and upbeat session making music and creating beats.
Jo Nockels, Projects Manager, Opera North, comments:
"Presenting fabulous African music has become one of the trademarks of the Howard Assembly Room programme, and we are delighted to focus this season's programme on three such restlessly inventive and influential musicians".