Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Salif Keita

Salif Keita
Photo courtesy of Blue Note Tokyo

"Keita' voice is remarkable in itself. Its high, bracing purity is heightened by a unique phrasing that combines full-tilt warrior strength, the sensual lilt of the Brazilian samba and Islamic prayer calls." Rolling Stone

The Blue Note Tokyo continues its examination of African pop when Malian singer Salif Keita pulls into town for a week-long residency. It comes as no coincidence that Keita is a recent recruit to Blue Note's record label, having released his most recent album Papa on Blue Note in 1999.

Born into the royal family of Mali, a dynasty that reaches back to the 12th century, Keita ditched it all to pursue his dream of a career in music. Disowned by his father, he moved to the Malian capital of Bamoko in 1967 and began singing with his brother in nightclubs. His near-operatic vocal range and mesmerizing presence soon caught the attention of the Rail Band, a popular government-sponsored group that also featured renowned Malian guitar player Kante Manfila. After joining the band, they relocated to the more happening city of Abidjian, capital of The Ivory Coast, renaming themselves Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux. The band gained recognition for their dynamic blend of Cuban, Zairean and Malian influences, and in 1977 Keita was awarded the prestigious National Order of Guinea for his cultural contributions.

Following up on suggestions that he launch a solo career, Keita relocated to Paris in 1984, settling in with the 15,000-strong Malian expat community. Soro, Keita's debut solo album, appeared in 1987 to wide acclaim. To this day, Keita remains a leading exponent of Afropop, with a number of albums out on Mango, Polygram, Melodie and Blue Note.

According to one fan, Keita has been known to pull people up on stage to dance during his shows, which should have the often-staid Blue Note rocking with abandon.

Salif Keita plays the Blue Note Tokyo on 8/7-12. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana