As most people know, Mali's northern region recently was overrun by Islamists associated with al Qaeda. Their first move before the French moved in and chased them into the desert? To ban music. A typical first move by all authoritarian forces claiming to know what's best for the rest.
As Jim noted, the move was an offense to the soul of a nation that thrives on beats, dance, melodies, harmonies and joy. I thought we all should hear what the North African terrorists were trying to eradicate. So I asked Jim to recommend five albums by leading Mali artists that can be downloaded. [Pictured above: Guitarist Ali Farka Touré, who before he died in 2006 exposed international audiences to Mali's music]
Read Jim's column here. Then dig his Mali music picks below, which he said are "for the most part absent of Western influence—even though Sissoko's partner [Vincent Segal] is a French cellist."
La Difference by Salif Keita
Moussoulou by Oumou Sangare
Chamber Music by Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal
Aman Iman by Tinariwen
In the Heart of the Moon by Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté