Blogging WOMAD – Zoo For You, Rafiki Jazz, Toumast

Following on from a blistering set and incredible spectacle from the indefatiguable Drummers of Burundi, who were not content to beat seven shades of Burundi blue out of their drums, but also had to dance, jump and carry their drums on their heads just for kicks… I went over to see Zoo For You on the newly rechristened Charlie Gillett stage.

Combining an eclectic mix of sounds, they remind me of a british Vampire Weekend, combining as they do a very Indie pop sensibility with a variety of musical motifs hailing from diverse cultures.

But I couldnt stay for the whole set (sorry boys) because I had to get over to the amazingly genteel and laid back surroundings of the Radio Three stage, tucked away in the Arboretum, to catch some of the Rafiki Jazz performance. If Zoo For You are eclectic, then Rafiki Jazz are eclectic times by ten – they incorporate a range of musicians from African and South American nations, as well as Brit or two. In terms of music they somehow combine a range of percussion and stringed instruments from different muscial traditions, as well as incorporating a beatboxer.

In other hands this combination might seem dangerous, even toxic, but Rafiki Jazz pull it off beautifully, making sweet sounds with a beautiful fusion twist. They were the perfect sound track to a laid back hour in Radio Three’s home amidst the trees.

My favourite kind of music is that which combines a number of different cultural references, creating a new context for musical expression – and that is what Rafiki Jazz do in spades.

On right now are Toumast, whom I am listening to from a distance, playing their own style of desert blues. There’s something about these Saharan musicians who play the electric blues, it’s been amazing to see how so many great names have emerged over the years, and now Toumast are right in their with them. Singing songs about the oppression of the Tourareg people, they combine an heavy blues sound with the sound of the desert people in exile – amazing stuff.

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