Last Friday night the Sanctuary For Independent Media was filled to the rafters with the infectious African rhythms of Malian vocalist Khaira Arby and her band.
The five-piece outfit got a bit of a late start after being held up at the U.S./Canadian border, but once they were on the bandstand and in the spotlight weaving their intoxicating rhythms together, nobody cared. And for those who came early and waited around, there was plenty to do or see at the Sanctuary.
Arby – cousin of late, internationally acclaimed African guitar legend Ali Farka Toure – continues to mix modern sounds, American blues and West Africa’s varied traditional tribal music with the rich female griot vocal tradition forged by Ami Koita.
Braced by intricate guitar lines mixed with plenty of percussion, Arby’s soulful voice soared over the melody lines, bouncing in and out and all around the notes. People simply couldn’t sit still, and all over the Sanctuary bodies swayed and danced to the band’s intricate, undeniable rhythms.
The concert inaugurated the Sanctuary For Independent Media’s sixth year of presenting off-the-beaten-track music, workshops, art exhibitions, lectures and films.
Coming up next in the Sanctuary’s music series will be “A Dialogue Between Voice and Drums,” featuring award-winning African-American poet-performer-recording artist Jayne Cortez with drummer-composer Denardo Coleman at 8pm on Saturday, October 23. Tix are $10.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk