Béla Fleck Announces ‘Africa Sessions’ Compilation & New Album
Bela Fleck announced the release of new collaborative album The Ripple Effect with kora master Toumani Diabate as part of the compilation Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions, all due out on March 27 via Craft Recordings. The banjo virtuoso also shared the first single from The Ripple Effect, “Nashville.”
Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions brings together Béla’s Grammy-winning 2009 album Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3—Africa Sessions along with Africa Sessions Part 2: Unreleased Tracks as well as The Ripple Effect with kora player Toumani Diabaté. The kora is a forerunner and cousin of the banjo. The collection, including three discs of music and a DVD, document Fleck’s journeys in Africa to discover the roots of the banjo.
“I knew that my beloved instrument had originally come from West Africa,” Fleck wrote in a statement. “And from time to time I found tantalizing tidbits of African acoustic music that gave me the confidence to know that there was a phenomenal amount of incredible stuff going on under the radar.”
Then, Flecktones saxophonist Jeff Coffin played Béla a recording of renowned Malian singer Oumou Sangare. “I was literally stunned,” Fleck remembers. “I’d had this reaction only a few times — when music was so compelling that everything had to stop while I listened. Earl Scruggs’ banjo did it to me. Chick Corea’s music did it to me. And so did this.”
As fate would have it, one of Fleck’s old bluegrass friends managed Sangare and the singer invited Béla to Mali which kicked off a three-nation journey Fleck described as “a nonstop set of intense, powerful and joyful musical interactions. Every day for five weeks, I was meeting musicians, and filming pieces with them in their homes, other unconventional locations, and even on rare occasions – recording studios. We recorded/filmed over 30 pieces so it came out to something like a tune per day while we were there.”
Béla’s interest in African music and the roots of the banjo led him to team up with Diabaté for The Ripple Effect. Listen to the album’s lead single, “Nashville,” below:
Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions Tracklist Disc One: Throw Down Your Heart, Part One Tulinesangala – Nakisenyi Women’s Group (Uganda) Kinetsa – D’Gary (Madagascar) Ah Ndiya – Oumou Sangare (Mali) Kabibi – Anania Ngoliga (Tanzania) Angelina – Luo Cultural Association (Uganda) D’Gary Jam – D’Gary, Béla Fleck, Oumou Sangare, Richard Bona, Baba Maal, Vusi Mahlasela, Afel Bocoum, Anania Ngoliga, Toumani Diabaté, and friends (Madagascar, Uganda, Mali, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Cameroon) Throw Down Your Heart – Harouna Samake Trio and Bassekou Kouate (Mali) Thula Mama – Vusi Mahlasela (South Africa) Wairenziante – Muwewesu Xylophone Group (Uganda) Buribalal – Afel Bocoum (Mali) Zawose – Chibite – The Zawose Family (Tanzania) Ajula/Mbamba – The Jatta Family (The Gambia) Pakugyenda Balebauo – Warema Masiaga Cha Cha (Tanzania) Jesus Is the Only Answer – Ateso Jazz Band (Uganda) Matitu – Khalifan Matitu (Tanzania) Mariam – Djelimady Tounkara (Mali) Djorolen – Oumou Sangare (Mali) Dunia Haina Wema/Thumb Fun – Anania Ngoliga (Tanzania) Disc Two: Throw Down Your Heart, Part Two Spirit Song – Haruna Walisimbe, Okiror, and Ronald Mabandha (Uganda) Salam Aleikum – Afel Bocoum, Hama Sankare, Yoro Cisse, Barou Diallo, and Zoumana Tereta(Mali) Chant – Masai Warriors (Tanzania) The Rights of Man / Ya Fama – Harouna Samake, Madou Sanogo, and Habib Sangare(Mali) Kamungoro – Albert Bisaso Ssempeke Jr. (Uganda) Kandjo – Bassekou Kouyate, Ami Sacko, and Alou Coulibazy(Mali) Obughangwa – Muwewesu Xylophone Group(Uganda) Soumauro – Djelimady Tounkara and Alou Coulibazy(Mali) Furaha –Tanzania (Anania Ngoliga) Mar Rano – D’Gary, Xavier-Martial François, and Roy “FutureMan” Wooten(Madagascar) Jesus of Banjul – Jesus Jah Jarju (The Gambia) Mali Jam – Free Jam: Djelimady Tounkara, Harouna Samake, Bassekou Kouate, Lassana Diabaté, and Alou Coulibazy(Mali) Kayi Ni Wura – Oumou Sangare, Souleymane Sidibe, Zoumana Tereta, Benogo Diakite, Sékou Bah, Sékou Diabaté, and Nabintou Diakate (Mali) Old Joe Jatta – Remi Jatta, Naser Sambou, Phgusiteh Sambou, Frederick Jatta, Sega Jatta, Joseph Sambou, Abdoulie Saine, and Samba Bah (The Gambia) Disc Three: Toumani Diabaté and Béla Fleck — The Ripple Effect, Throw Down Your Heart Part 3 Bamako Nashville Snug Harbor Elyne Road Matitu/Buribalal Manchester Throw Down Your Heart Kauonding Sissoko Katmandu Dueling Banjos