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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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Let the rhythm move you - Aly Keita in Concert


On May 17, 2022, the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bayreuth invited the public to experience the ALY KEITA TRIO, whose world-renowned music combines Afropop with funk and jazz elements.

As kick-off event for the award ceremony of Dr. Fatou Sow's BIGSAS Honorary doctorate, the Cluster's deputy spokesperson Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler organised a night to remember at one of Bayreuth most beloved music and event venue: Kulturbühne Reichshof. Located in the heart of the town, the venue witnessed a special evening with African rhythms and Jazz sounds oozing out of its gates into Bayreuth's pedestrian zone when the Aly Keita Trio performed.

The Ivorian Aly Keita - who was recently awarded the German Jazz Preis - is one of the great virtuosos of the balafon: a variant of the xylophone common mainly in West Africa, in which hollowed-out gourds serve as resonators. His enthusiasm and love of music are contagious and infectious. Descended from a family of musicians, Aly Keita grew up surrounded by traditional instruments like the djembe and the kora. But his favorite instrument became the balafon, which he made with his own hands as a young man, and which he has played ever since.

Aly Keita earned world reputation for his mastery of the balafon. While rooted in tradition, Keita's Afro-pop, funk-fueled rhythm section, and taste for complex jazz-oriented arrangements set him apart from most balafonists. He created the ALY KEITA TRIO with the Dutch master on drums Marcel van Cleef and the virtuosi and funky bass player Roberto Badoglio. All three musicians are based in Berlin, where they met each other in the jazz scene. They combine the West-African balafon music with funky, jazzy grooves.

The evening of May 17 also featured an opening act by Mozambican musician Matchume Zango and South African choreographer and dancer Desiré Davids. Zango played the traditional instrument timbila, a marimba-like instrument revered as part of Mozambique's national heritage and Desiré Davids interpreted the music through dance. The two artists have a longstanding history of working together so their respective artistic expression merged harmoniously to a moving performance.

The event marked the start of the Two-day-celebration of Dr. Fatou Sow's BIGSAS Honorary doctorate awarded by the University of Bayreuth. The awardee was in attendance and enjoyed along with the rest of the audience the contagious rhythms that made many a spectator get up and dance. (sg)

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