Best of 2020 – Steve Kindig (World)

Steve Kindig alternates on Beyond Borders Wednesday afternoon from 12-2 (eastern).

Modou Toure/Touki/Arc Music
A sweet slice of upbeat Afropop that features both modern and traditional sounds.

Bab L’Bluz/Nayda!/Real World
Using Gnawa trance music as a base, this quartet of young Moroccan and French musicians blends in rock, blues, and funk to create a fresh, fascinating sound.

David Walters/Soleil Kreyol/Heavenly Sweetness
Built around toe-tapping Afro-Caribbean rhythms, this album also offers an eclectic mix of instruments backing Walters’ terrific multi-lingual vocals.

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia/Cappella Romana/Cappella Romana
Fans of choral music should check out this stunning recording of medieval Byzantine chant, which re-creates the vast acoustic space of Turkey’s famed Hagia Sophia. If you have a home theater, the deluxe version (CD and Blu-ray) includes a high-resolution Dolby Atmos surround sound mix, for an incredibly immersive listening experience.

Vusi Mahlasela/Shebeen Queen/ATO
The South African singer-songwriter/guitarist’s wonderful live album was recorded in the street in front of the former shebeen (speakeasy) owned by his late grandmother, Ida, the “Shebeen Queen.”

South Africa’s Vusi Mahlasela Unveils Shebeen Queen

A.G.A. Trio/Meeting/Naxos
Representing Armenia, Georgia and Anatolia (Asian Turkey), the A.G.A. Trio reinterprets ancient folk melodies, creating vibrant ensemble music for accordion, flute, and the oboe-like duduk. An album of peaceful beauty for these frazzled times.

Tamikrest is one of the more recent Tuareg bands to bring guitar-driven desert blues from the Sahara to the world. Here the band expands on its core sound with the help of several guest musicians.

Keleketla!/Keleketla/Ahead of Our Time
This collaboration between South African musicians and UK electronic duo Coldcut delivers nine tracks of deep grooves and unstoppable momentum, aided by old hands like the late, great percussionist Tony Allen.

Songhoy Blues/Optimisme/Fat Possum
The third album from this rocking Malian band sounds more focused and hits harder than their previous efforts. This is high-energy protest music.

Trio Bacana/Transatlantiker/Klam
The catchy music of this accomplished female trio has its main influences in the music of Brittany and Brazil. The flowing three-part harmonies are accompanied by spare instrumentation — often simply percussion.

Groupe RTD/The Dancing Devils of Djibouti/Ostinato
Djibouti gained its independence from France in 1977, yet this is the first album of music to come out of this small country in the Horn of Africa. Although their day job is playing national events, when they’re off duty, this band of veterans absolutely cooks! Their hypnotic sound is part East Africa, part Arab.

Afel Bocoum/Linde/World Circuit
Malian guitarist Afel Bocoum played with the great Ali Farka Toure for years, but there’s more here than desert blues. The polished production features traditional instruments like n’goni, kora, and balafon alongside Western instruments — including trombone.

For decades, Ghanaian highlife was a dominant music style in west Africa before being overshadowed by Afrobeat. The young band Santrofi aims to revive highlife with an energetic mix of punchy horns and crisp electric guitars. Check their dance moves in this YouTube clip.

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