A big band from Berlin, the Omniversal Earkestra project, discovers records by big bands from the Republic of Mali from the 1960s and 70s, when there was an explosive music scene right after the country’s independence. Fascinated by the sound — which combines Dogon, Wassalou or Tuareg traditions with Cuban influences — they embark on a journey to meet the veteran legends who originated the movement, such as Cheick Tidiane Seck, Abdoulaye Diabaté or Salif Keita.
A film journey in search of Mali’s vibrant big band scene, which emerged after the country’s independence in 1960. Sponsored by the state and other institutions, big bands emerged as a cultural statement and national pride, outside the French colonialist yoke. Super bands in orchestra format such as Mystère Jazz from Tombouctou, Kanaga from Mopti, Super Bitons from Segou, Les Ambassadeurs or the Railband from Bamako, which played every day in hotels and restaurants, are some examples of bands that have now fallen into oblivion, where musicians such as Cheick Tidiane Seck, Sory Bamba, Abdoulaye Diabaté or Salif Keita sprouted. This is also a film album resulting from the cooperation between a new generation of German musicians and the Malian musicians who were part of these bands and which resulted in a collaborative record, rescuing from memory this lost sound of Mali. (Carlos Ramos)