Afrocubism is a project that began as a dream thirteen years ago. Nick Gold’s idea was to fuse the sounds of Malian and Cuban music for an album. But along the way, the Malian half of this collaboration either lost their passports, couldn’t get their visas together, or found better paying opportunities, the true reason still a subject of controversy. Believe what you will, the result of this blunder was the acclaimed album ‘Buena Vista Social Club’, which landed at 260 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’ list in 2003. With Afrocubism visiting Reykjavík to perform at Harpa on June 28, we thought it appropriate to get in contact with their kora player, Toumani Diabaté, and get the skinny on their upcoming show.
The first thing Toumani clarified was that it was a stroke of luck that Afrocubism was even able to come together. “I went to Netherlands with my band Symmetric Orchestra and Eliades Ochoa came to the hotel with my manager, and I was there sitting with my Kora. And I played with Eliades Ochoa for two hours at the lobby in the hotel. And it was really nice and I wanted to record something with Eliades Ochoa. We spoke to Mr. Nick Gold who is my producer and also the producer of Eliades Ochoa”. The look on Nick Gold’s face when he heard this news must have been priceless. His dream project of thirteen years ago literally fell into his lap. Having been under the impression that Toumani was part of the Malians in the original project, this sort of came as a shock. Toumani cleared that up, stating that he wasn’t one of the original Malians, but is very happy that things turned out the way they did.
Nick Gold and Eliades Ochoa then went on to meet Toumani in Paris for his show, and many of the members were added on there. “We found singer Kasse Mady Diabaté and the balafon player, Lasana Diabaté, in Paris. Then we met in Madrid a couple months later in December to record for one week together”.
He is adamant that Afrocubism isn’t a project stemming from Buena Vista Social Club. “They cannot be compared. There is no reason to compare them. This is original. It’s a new style of music”.
Toumani was ecstatic to come to Reykjavík, stating that he was “very happy”. He had collaborated with Björk on her 2007 album Volta. “I had a very good relationship with Björk. And also the whole band. So I’m very excited to play this music in Iceland. This music needs to be listened to everywhere. By everyone”.
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